Wolverhampton offers general practice staff a wealth of opportunities to develop their careers. Examples include the introduction of different roles, practice manager development training and care navigation as a different way of working for practice staff that will improve future patient care.
The city has a diverse population, so the healthcare needs of patients are extremely challenging. Practice groups have been established that cover up to 60,000 patients across each group, focusing primarily on the management of long term conditions and other healthcare issues within the groups.
Career development opportunities for primary care staff are wide ranging in Wolverhampton both at practice and group level. These roles include care navigation, medical opportunities and partnership working. Strong partnership working with the University of Wolverhampton, Health Education West Midlands and NHS England provides a number of training benefits including development programmes at a local practice level. There are also opportunities for individual practice team members through the University to develop as individuals.
Staff are accessing training from a number of locations. Practice managers as well as administration and reception staff are attending training on a regular basis. This is proving highly beneficial as they develop their skills and competence so they can meet the needs of their patients more effectively.
NHS Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which buys and plans healthcare for the area, has a strong primary care team which has group managers attached to each group of practices. The team works very closely with individual practices to ensure the groups continue to grow and go from strength to strength.
“The most rewarding part of being involved in primary care in Wolverhampton is the scale and pace of change that is taking place,” says Sarah Southall, Head of Primary Care at NHS Wolverhampton CCG. “We have two large delivery programmes that are up and running for the benefit of staff who work in practices.”
Practices have embraced innovative ways of working differently to improve the care that patients receive.
During Christmas last year Wolverhampton practices helped to reduce winter pressures by working together to ensure a number of primary care hubs were open during the Christmas and New Year period. This enabled patients from a range of different practices across the city to access healthcare on a bank holiday within a hub rather than going through the urgent care system. This work has continued this year when the hubs were introduced at Easter, spring and summer bank holidays and on Saturday mornings. Patient feedback has been excellent and people have really appreciated the opportunity of being seen closer to home in their own communities.
The CCG has recently introduced a number of clinical pharmacists through securing funds from NHS England. Each practice group now has a level of clinical pharmacist cover and they are playing a key role in helping patients with long term conditions and also taking pressures off local GPs so they can spend more time with patients.
More than £3.7 billion of investment is on site or in the pipeline for Wolverhampton, helping deliver jobs in a variety of sectors. The regeneration programme targets inclusive growth and looks at both people and place. There are recruitment challenges in relation to social care, so the City of Wolverhampton Council has worked with Skills for Care nationally – the first local authority to do so.
Linda Sanders, Strategic Director for People, at Wolverhampton City Council, says: “Adult social care is integral to the primary care offer. We work very closely across social care increasingly in multi-disciplinary settings so we understand well across the system how important it is to have high quality adult social care support for people in their own homes. This means that you are making better use of health resources so we have to work together to improve the health and wellbeing of our population.”