Patients in Southern Derbyshire are starting to benefit from an innovative national pilot scheme that is trialling improvements to GP access using the latest technology, funded by the £50m Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.
NHS Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been successful in securing funding of £248,000 to launch a 12 month project, which focuses on measures to improve the patient experience at GP practices across Southern Derbyshire.
Some of the funding will be used to pilot face to face video consultations. Many practices are already offering telephone consultations to patients and these have become popular with patients who cannot visit the practice easily.
Virtual consultations takes this idea to a new and innovative level enabling the GP to see the patient and make observations of visible signs, rashes etc. This would be invaluable to the housebound and other patient groups who have difficulty attending the practice in person. Somercotes Medical Centre and Hollybrook Medical Centre will be trialling the video consultations
Work is progressing strongly in GP Practices on an electronic prescribing service, which is a national initiative that will enable patients to collect repeat prescriptions direct from the Pharmacy of their choice without first having to visit the GP practice to collect the paper prescription. Fifteen practices have already gone live with the service and seven more are scheduled to go live between now and February 2015. Work is continuing to ensure that the remaining practices are involved as soon as possible
The CCG is also looking at how GP websites can benefit patients further with features such as online consultations, an icon created for Smartphones, special podcasts and a widget that emails out newsletters to patients.
Dr Sheila Newport, Chair of NHS Southern Derbyshire CCG, said:
"Patients are at the heart of everything we do so we are delighted to have secured the funding from the Prime Minister's Challenge Fund to test a variety of innovative ways in which we can improve services for patients. This 12 month pilot scheme is all about embracing the latest technology to promote innovation and patient empowerment."
In October 2013, the Prime Minister announced the Challenge Fund to improve access to general practice and test innovative ways of delivering GP services. NHS England was asked to lead on selecting and managing the pilot schemes. In December 2013, NHS England invited GP practices to submit their ‘expressions of interest’ (EOIs) to be one of the pilots, before selecting the final list of successful schemes in April 2014.
A second wave of the Fund was announced by NHS England last month (on 29 October), inviting more GP practices to bid for a share of another £100m to improve and extend patient access to services.