More than 600 additional staff have been recruited into healthcare roles at practices across North Central London since 2019. This expanded range of professionals means patients can get the right care when they need it, in addition to seeing their GP or practice nurse.
From October, the NHS is raising awareness of the support available with community health teams, including pharmacists, mental health practitioners, paramedics, physios, and social prescribers now available in every part of the country.
Record numbers of people are seeking support from their family doctors but with one in five GP appointments for non-medical reasons such as loneliness or seeking advice on housing or debts, the NHS wants to make sure that the right help is available.
Patient’s can still see their GP, but the practice team will assess patients’ needs when they first contact their practice so they can be seen by the right health professional. For example, if a patient has muscular pain, they will be signposted to a first contact physiotherapist.
Dr Katie Coleman, NCL Clinical Director for Primary Care said: “Record numbers of people are seeking support from their GP practice, with teams treating half a million more patients a week compared to before the pandemic, and this demand is only going to increase with an ageing population so the NHS must adapt its services to match this need.
“While people will always be able to see their family doctor when they need to, the NHS is giving people more options with more than 600 new staff working in General Practice in North Central London since 2019 meaning patients can get specialist support from social prescribing link workers, mental health professionals, first contact physiotherapists, and pharmacists without needing to see a GP first.
As a GP working in a busy practice, patients have told me that having the chance to receive support from these new roles has meant that they have had more time to explain their concerns, identify what is important to them and be signposted to care that is tailored to their needs.”
To help explain the support available, a new film has been released by NHS England as part of a national public-facing campaign.
Featuring a range of staff including Janice Bruce, Receptionist and Care Navigator from Islington’s GP Federation, the film sees three curious children go behind the scenes at a general practice to meet some of these professionals and learn more about how they help patients get the care they need. While public awareness of the range of support available in general practice may be low, in Greater London more than 62% of people surveyed said they were happy to receive care from another health worker, recognising they didn’t always need to see a GP.
Janice Bruce, Receptionist and Care Navigator in Islington said: “Having access to a range of healthcare professionals at a GP practice means patients receive the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.
As a member of the practice reception team, we’re specially trained to know about the services available to patients at their GP practice and in their local area. This allows care navigators such as me to redirect patients to another local service where appropriate.”
To find out more patients can talk to their practice reception team or visit nhs.uk/GPservices
The research was conducted by Censuswide, among a sample of 2,007 Adults in England aged 16+, with at least 250 South Asians and 150 of Black ethnicities. The data was collected between 25.08.2023 – 31.08.2023, Censuswide abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.