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Over 100 additional roles recruited into GP practices to support patients in the Vale of York

Primary Care Networks (PCNs) across the Vale of York have been working hard to recruit over 100 new members of staff to support patients to access the right care at their GP practice.

The new roles offer a broad range of healthcare professions to support patients with differing health and wellbeing needs, without having to see a GP first. These roles include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, mental health practitioners, urgent care practitioners, pharmacists, health and wellbeing coaches, care co-ordinators and social prescribing link workers. All work from local practices and can offer expert specialist support for patients.  

All eight Primary Care Networks across the Vale of York are bringing in a range of these additional roles to enhance their primary care teams, and patients can expect to be seen by them if their needs are appropriate.

South Hambleton and Ryedale PCN, Clinical Director Dr Paula Evans, said: "The new roles we have in post signify a real change in the way we can offer care to our patients.  By growing our primary care teams with specialised roles that support the needs of our population, it enables us work more efficiently so patients can see the right person, in the right place and at the right time."

Social Prescribing Link Workers are one example of the new roles being employed by Primary Care Networks. Throughout the pandemic they have been able to offer a huge amount of support to patients - the kind that doesn’t come in a tube or bottle. Instead, a social prescription offers support that will help people access activities to improve health and enjoyment in life, such as art classes, walking football, gardening, debt counselling, housing and other practical support agencies.

Dr Steve Lovisetto, GP at South Milford Surgery and Clinical Director for Tadcaster and Rural Selby PCN said: “Social prescribing has been hugely beneficial and meant that crucial wellbeing support has contributed to keeping patients safe and well - even when we weren’t able to see many patients face-to-face - especially considering social isolation, financial worries and mental health.

“The additional roles have relieved some pressure off of GP time, enabling a greater capacity for appointments requiring medical attention such as cervical screening, assessing lumps and cancer referrals.”

When asked about the importance of new roles to support patients in GP practices Dr Lovisetto added: “GPs and practice managers across our practices regularly meet to share information, discuss new roles and make joint decisions that will create better health outcomes for our patients. This has not stopped because of Coronavirus, but encouraged us to do more together and have plans in place to future proof the services offered in our area."

Already the new roles are having a positive impact on patients, including Martin Bissell who has lost two stones in weight since being invited to take part in a programme of support from his Selby practice.  He says being contacted by primary care staff may have saved his life.

Martin Bissell, a patient with Posterngate Surgery, said: "If I hadn't had that letter (from the primary care team) I'd be dead in two years. It was going that way. I'd spend most of my days sitting around with my feet up. I had no energy. It really inspired me to know there was something I could go and do."

Patients will be identified as suitable to be seen by one of the new roles either via a GP or when they book in for an appointment. Patients can also request to see the social prescribing link worker themselves. For more information on social prescribing visit the social prescribing webpage.

Stephanie Porter, Director of Primary Care at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The CCG works closely with our PCN partners across the Vale of York to successfully recruit so many new roles to support our primary care teams and their patients.

“The hard work over the last 18 months to establish news roles and deliver care in really tough circumstances is testament to the how GP practices put patients at the heart of everything they do. Practices are interacting not only with each other but the wider health and social care system to enable a greater range of services to meet the needs of their population.”

To learn more about our Primary Care Networks and the additional roles available in the Vale of York click here.

An example of additional roles in primary care is the Mental Health Practitioner


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