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Every industry is guilty of it ...

20th February 2019

But perhaps the healthcare sector is one of the biggest offenders!

What is it?

Jargon, industry speak, and we seem to have a particular fancy for acronyms!

Originally I started this article by talking about clinical roles in primary care but does anyone who doesn’t work in this arena know what is meant by primary care? 

After putting the phrase into a well-known search engine, I got the following definition “…the first point of contact in the healthcare system, acting as the 'front door' of the NHS” which describes it quite well.  When ACE refers to primary care, we are talking predominantly about the GP surgeries and the Care Navigation Hub, often shortened to the Hub!

One of the issues facing primary care nationally is the demand; that ‘front door’ isn’t always open when people want it to be.  In Tendring the issue is compounded by high deprivation, increased elderly population and a difficulty to recruit clinical staff.  This means we must try to work differently to best use our finite resources.

The Hub was introduced last year and was ground breaking in its approach.  A central telephone answering system for four surgeries manned by trained care navigators who are helped by intelligent software which has been designed to direct the patient to the appropriate clinician based on the symptoms.  Did you know for example, that a nurse practitioner can help with a chest infection rather than you having to wait to see the doctor?

The implementation of the system hasn’t been a smooth ride but every day we work to ensure we provide the best service possible.  The media recently reported that the Government is to provide some additional funds to provide practice staff to support GPs.  This is something that ACE has already started to introduce.

We have clinical pharmacists who cover all four surgeries.  They are knowledgeable and experienced clinicians who, as well are issuing repeat prescriptions, can perform medication reviews.   Some patients have a multitude of different medications that all require updating at different times; a key project for the team this year is to work on aligning these prescriptions which will reduce the number of visits a patient has to make to the surgery.  Better for the patient but better for the surgery too, by freeing up appointment slots for others.

Matron… now there is a word that to those of you of a certain age will conjure up images of Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques… but is it a term we still use.  At ACE we have practice matrons who are senior nurses with advanced skills in assessing and managing patients.  One of the key roles they have is at the Hub.  They are available to support the Care Navigation team by assessing (or as we say in the industry, they triage) a patients symptoms and provide advice as to the best course of action.  They also triage home visits, prescribe medications, guide the nurses in the practices and also perform home visits to those who cannot attend the surgery.

We might refer to our medical centres as GP surgeries, but these days it is not just about the GP, in fact many of my colleagues can provide a more specialist service than I.  So, if when you book an appointment you are directed to another clinician, please embrace this. 

We are doing everything we can to ensure that the NHS is here for our future generations which does mean trying things differently.  As Jimmy Dean once said “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination” and I think it is fair to say that ACE has experienced some erratic winds and we are still learning how to trim the sails but the direction is good.

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