Training for GP Practices aims to further improve care

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A new clinical training programme for staff in most of Norwich's GP practices is launching next week (May 23rd 2018).
It is called "Protected Learning".  The aim is to provide half a day of protected time when staff can take part in professional development: anything from learning new skills that will directly help them look after patients to brushing up on the latest developments in healthcare.
It's not just for GPs, nurses and clinical pharmacists,  all of the practice team including receptionists, IT and admin staff will be invited to take part.
The first Protected Learning day will be on Wednesday May 23rd. On that day the 22 practices will be unable to offer routine appointments from 1pm-6.30pm, but patients who have an urgent problem and who need to speak to a doctor or nurse should still call their surgery. There will either be a message to advise what to do next or they will be put through automatically to the local 111 and Out of Hours GP service run by IC24 who will be providing cover.
Protected Learning time already takes place in many other areas of the country, including other parts of Norfolk and Waveney and fits in with the much wider NHS programme of continuous professional development and mandatory training which everyone in the NHS is required to undertake.

Norwich Practices offer 3400 more appointments this winter

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GP practices were open between Christmas and New Year 2017, with more on-the-day appointments made available. There was also extra capacity in the 111 and out of hours services and at the walk-in centre in Norwich.

Now, Norwich GP Practices are offering additional appointments over the winter months of 2018, to see a nurse, a clinical pharmacist, a doctor or to have a telephone conversation.

All 23 practices in Norwich are taking part.

For some practices this would mean 8-10 extra appointments per week (averaging 1 or 2 per day) and for larger practices this may mean between 25-30 extra appointments per week (averaging about 5 a day.) The total number of additional appointments offered will be around 3400, over 23 practices over 8 weeks.
The arrangements were proposed by OneNorwich, the alliance of GP Practices which is working to strengthen general practice in the city and improve care for patients.

Dr Simon Cooke, the chair of OneNorwich said: “For some time, Norwich general practice has been under huge pressure to meet the workload demands of our increasingly elderly and frail population. Christmas, New Year and winter is always an extremely busy period for the NHS, and we have known since September that this winter could be even more difficult because of the strain of flu virus in circulation. So Norwich general practice is very pleased to contribute still more to help meet the demands on our system, though this will bring with it further strain on already pressured organisations.

If you have an appointment, “keep it, or cancel it”

If you are going to make an appointment please think, can you:

  • Manage your problem by looking after yourself better, keeping warm, eating, drinking and sleeping sensibly?
  • Seek advice from NHS choices ( on how best to manage your symptoms?
  • Seek advice/treatment from your local pharmacist or NHS111?

Dr Cooke added: “Only those with serious ongoing problems will normally need to ask for more help from the NHS. We would also ask people to be patient with their general practices when trying to get through on the telephone and not to choose to simply go to local accident and emergency departments in our hospitals with problems that are not emergencies or not accident related. Please take advice from NHS 111, your local pharmacist, or your GP surgery before choosing to call an ambulance or going to a hospital casualty department. ”

OneNorwich invests £450,000 to improve health services

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We have put together six projects, using funds from our partners at NHS Norwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). They are:

  • More appointments over winter (see news story on the left)
  • Purchase modern diagnostic equipment for practices 
  • A pilot GP home visiting service, tested at three practices for three months. If successful it could be considered for all our practices.
  • A quality assurance manager working with practices
  • Backfill to enable doctors and nurses to benefit from protected learning time
  • An intranet for OneNorwich
Altogether these projects are an investment of about £450,000  a year, made possible by re-distributing "PMS monies". This is funding that used to be paid to a small number of practices to provide additional services. Under a national directive, much of this PMS money is now being used for the benefit of more or all patients in Norwich.