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Revolutionising Primary Care: The Path to Integrated Healthcare

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At the Chamber Integrating Healthcare Seminar, ICB Partner Member for Providers of Primary Care, Dr Pramit Patel held a conversation with attendees and Chair of the English Pharmacy Board, Thorrun Govind to discuss their experiences for the future of out of hospital care.

In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, the need for seamless integration between various primary care providers is of paramount importance. The challenge lies in bringing together general practice, pharmacy, optometry, dentistry, and audiology to deliver cohesive care services. To shed light on this crucial matter, a discussion panel featuring Pramit Patel, the executive primary care leader for Surrey Heartlands ICS, and Thorrun Govind, the Chair of the English Pharmacy Board, was held.

Answering several well thought through questions, the conversation explored innovative solutions, the impact of policy, and the path towards achieving NHS goals for out-of-hospital care.

The Journey to Integrated Care

As a leading GP partner from Surrey, Dr Patel shared his insights on the broader concept of primary care, stating that it encompasses various professions, including general practice, pharmacy, optometry, dentistry, and audiology. He stressed the importance of co-ordinated, integrated, out-of-hospital clinical pathways with clear lines of accountability and responsibility. To achieve this, he emphasised the need to bridge the gap between general practice and community services, working together in integrated neighbourhood teams. Dr Patel also highlighted the significance of utilising data science to maximise the potential of health data, enabling effective upstream prevention.

“We’ve talked about upstream work, but what does that really mean, upstream prevention using population health management data? But really, it’s more than just data, it’s the insights and the science behind the data.”

Dr Pramit Patel

In response, Govind, a community pharmacist, emphasised the significance of breaking down silos between healthcare providers. She praised the “Pharmacy First” initiative, which aimed to empower community pharmacists to deal with common conditions. She stressed the importance of patients’ journeys, streamlining the front door to the NHS, and ensuring patients are directed to the most appropriate care setting.

Empowering Pharmacists as Prescribers

The panel addressed the increasing role of community pharmacists in prescribing and supporting patients. Govind expressed her frustration about the criticism different professions receive, stressing the importance of supporting each other in prescribing within their competence. She emphasised that the future of primary care lies in empowering pharmacists as independent prescribers, enabling them to provide more comprehensive care to patients.

Thorrun Govind

“I think it comes back to this whole point of if we keep working in these silos that have developed, ultimately the patient suffers, and we end up with these uncoordinated ways of working where we get a bit frustrated at each other and it just doesn’t work very well.”

Patel shared the concern of pharmacists’ teams facing burnout and retention problems due to the lack of empowerment and limitations in their roles. He advocated for creating a pipeline for pharmacists to be more involved in prescribing and collaborative care, ensuring patients receive comprehensive care from various members of the healthcare team.

Challenges of Integration and Government Messaging

The panel recognised that achieving integration in Integrated Care Systems (ICS) can be complex, as each ICS may have unique characteristics and structures. Patel shared the significance of relationships and leadership in bridging gaps and creating meaningful connections within the system. He shared his experience with Surrey’s coterminous structure, while acknowledging that larger ICS may require different segmentation.

Both speakers also addressed the challenges arising from conflicting government messaging. Govind expressed concerns about government campaigns that primarily focus on GP visits, inadvertently undermining the efforts of other primary care professionals. To resolve this, the panel urged for collaborative efforts and a united voice from primary care providers to advocate for a more inclusive and holistic approach to healthcare messaging.

Final Thought: A Roadmap for the Future

The panel discussion between Dr Patel and Govind highlighted the need for collaboration and integration among primary care providers. To achieve seamless healthcare delivery, primary care must go beyond siloed approaches and adopt co-ordinated, integrated clinical pathways. Empowering pharmacists as prescribers and creating strong leadership across all levels are crucial steps in revolutionising primary care.

Moreover, fostering relationships and effective communication within ICS can ensure that policies and strategies align with the unique characteristics of each region. By advocating for an inclusive approach to healthcare messaging, primary care providers can collectively work towards a transformative change that benefits both patients and the entire healthcare system.

As the landscape of healthcare continues to evolve, it is through such insightful discussions and collaborative efforts that we can pave the way for a more integrated and patient-centric future. By working together, primary care providers can lead the charge in achieving the NHS’s out-of-hospital care goals and ensuring a healthier and more vibrant society for all.

The full video can be viewed here:

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