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'Step change' needed in developing GP clusters, says report

'Step change' needed in developing GP clusters, says report
From BBC - October 12, 2017

There is still a long way to go to develop clusters of doctors' surgeries across Wales, according to the assembly's health committee.

The 64 clusters not only bring local GPs together but pharmaceutical, physiotherapy and counselling services.

AMs want a refreshed approach to ensure the "right services are being delivered in the right areas in the right way."

Their report highlights good examples where closer working had helped patients and also saved resources.

But seven years after the first clusters were proposed and three years since they were set up, it said there was "still some way to go" and called for a "step-change" in how clusters are developed.

"A key reason behind the creation of primary care clusters is to relieve pressure on GPs and on our hospitals by keeping vital health services closer to home in people's communities," said Dr Dai Lloyd AM, the committee's chairman.

"But we have found limited evidence demonstrating that this is happening across Wales's 64 clusters."

Each cluster links up doctors and health services across villages, towns and areas of cities with populations of between 30,000 and 50,000 patients.

CASE STUDY: BRIDGEND AND PENCOED

One of those working well is the Pen-y-Bont cluster in east Bridgend, which serves more than 70,000 patients.

Six surgeries in Bridgend, which includes more than 35 doctors working closely together, share expertise and have progressed to the point where they work as a federation, the first in Wales.

This has led to a joint mental health counselling service for adults being set up. Before this, patients were usually referred to charities for help and could face waiting lists and were also adding to GP appointments.

The federation is also in talks with the local health board about providing a diabetes service and has successfully tendered to provide GP services at nearby Parc Prison.

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