Agenda item

GP Access Task Group



This report asked the Cabinet to reconsider the GP Access Task Group report, which included 14 recommendations aimed at improving the workforce capacity across primary care in Medway to ensure patients would receive better access and outcomes for their health needs.


The report had initially been submitted to the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 12 January 2023. The Committee had decided not to submit the report to Cabinet and that the report and its interim recommendations would be revisited in summer 2023 when the work can be completed with more GP engagement.


At its next meeting on 9 March, following a Member’s item, five members of the Committee gave support for a minority view on the basis that they did not agree with the view that the report’s findings were insufficient. The Cabinet, was therefore, asked to consider the report at its meeting on 4 April 2023.


On 4 April, the Cabinet considered the report, which set out the minority view. At that meeting the Cabinet noted the report and agreed that the Task Group report and its draft recommendations be revisited in Summer 2023 to enable completion of the work, including further engagement with GPs and that the completed Task Group report be presented to a future Cabinet meeting.


It was noted that following the local elections, which had taken place on 4 May 2023, a new administration had been formed and it had been decided that the GP Access Task Group report, which had been presented to the Cabinet at its meeting on 4 April 2023 would be resubmitted to the Cabinet for consideration of the recommendations.


The GP Access Task Group interim report was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. A Diversity Impact Assessment had been undertaken in relation to the 14 recommendations made by the Task Group. This was attached at Appendix 2 to the report.


The Deputy Leader thanked all staff and those in the health community who had supported and informed the Task Group for their commitment to a diligent and thorough piece of work undertaken at a time when Primary Care had been very challenged by patient demand and workforce recruitment.







The Cabinet agreed that the Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board be requested to offer appropriate training and support to practice staff, in particular reception staff to enable them to signpost and support patients without digital access or with low digital literacy to enable them to book GP and other primary care appointments.


Recognising that Medway residents need to be supported towards improving their digital literacy skills, thereby enabling more people to access the right advice and/or services across the whole system to suit their health and care needs, Cabinet agreed:


  • That the Council review and revive the digital inclusion programme.

·      That the Council (in partnership with K&M ICB) raise awareness of Medway Council’s digital literacy courses across the health and social care networks so that patients can be signposted by primary care and social care settings.


 Recognising that there may be additional opportunities within the Council to assist the K&M ICB/NHS in maximising its reach within the community, the Cabinet agreed that the Council (subject to resources being available), led by the communications team, assist the K&M ICB/NHS in resharing messages issued by the NHS on Medway channels and in schools concentrating on the following key areas:


  • Raising awareness of the multidisciplinary teams that make up General Practice (the different roles and what each does).
  • Using engagement opportunities to inform and encourage people on how to access help in different ways, supporting them to take ownership and make decisions about the care they need, and signposting them as seeing a GP may not always be the best option. For instance, GP online, NHS 111 appointments, pharmacy, the NHS App, First Contact Physiotherapy, Social prescribers can be appropriate alternatives.
  • Raising awareness about social prescribing services in Medway and how they can be accessed.
  • Raising awareness about Patient Participation Groups and encouraging members of the public to join their practice’s PPG in order to have a voice and inform their practices on what matters most to them and identify solutions to problems they face.
  • Assist with encouraging the uptake of screening and immunisation programmes in areas of low uptake across Medway, specifically childhood immunisations ensuring there is enough provision to meet demand.
  • Tailoring PSE programmes in schools to inform and empower young people to better understand the range of health and care services available to them and how to access these services. 

·      Utilise Medway Matters to communicate the above messages, reaching patients who are not generally active online.


The Cabinet agreed to request that the K&M ICB supports Primary Care Networks (PCN’s) in recruiting additional roles (i.e., allied health professional such as mental health practitioners, physiotherapists). This will allow GPs to devote resources and time to support patients and deal with issues that GPs are uniquely best placed to resolve.



The Cabinet agreed to request that the K&M ICB collates and shares best practice amongst surgeries, that can enhance practice efficiency and the quality of care provided to patients (areas including Primary Care Team dynamics, telephone systems, use of Community Pharmacy Consultation Service etc.).



The Cabinet agreed to request the K&M ICB provide training to receptionists across Medway in the following areas:


  • Patient compassion training.
  • Efficient and effective use of technology (computer terminals and answering of phone calls).

·      Majority of administrative duties so that tasks that only need actioning by a GP are passed onto to them.



The Cabinet agreed to request the Kent and Medway Local Pharmaceutical Committee (community pharmacies) and the Kent Local Medical Committee (general practices) work together and align in the following areas to provide the best and most efficient care for patients:


  • Pharmacy Prescribing.
  • Clinical Pathways.
  • Workforce Planning including ICT compatibility and connectivity.

·      Signposting patients in General Practices to Local and National Commissioning services provided by community pharmacies.



The Cabinet agreed that the Public Health team provide an annual update of the Medway Social Prescribing Plan to the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


The Cabinet agreed to request the K&M ICB that the ICB ensures that GP practices are following BMA’s safe working in general practice guidelines and providing the necessary support for GPs to be able to continue delivering safe patient care whilst preserving their wellbeing and health.


The Cabinet agreed to request the K&M ICB to investigate how online consultations are being utilised in General Practices and share best practices with other practices for improvements/adoption.


The Cabinet agreed to request the K&M ICB to support all PCNs and general practices to ensure they are making the best use of technology. This includes having an efficient telephone system to manage their calls and being shown the advantages of having telephone hubs across a PCN to pool resources and provide a more effective and efficient call answering service (such as that seen at the St Mary’s Island Practice).


The Cabinet agreed to request the K&M ICB to ensure patients can access the right services (GP appointments, preventative programmes, social prescribers etc.) to suit their health and care needs by supplying practices with the necessary technological infrastructure (I.e., computer terminals).


As other parts of primary care system including community pharmacies are going to be playing a critical role in relieving pressures on General Practices, ICT interface and integration across the system is key to enabling an integrated system that allows for clear communication of a patient’s medical records (including referrals, prescriptions, outcomes of tests and assessments, feedback to clinicians). Therefore, the Cabinet agreed to request that the ICB explore funding opportunities for ICT integration, to increase compatibility and connectivity between IT systems and to enable a more efficient and adequate provision of healthcare services.


The Cabinet agreed to make representations to Central Government to consider the need to:


  • Increase the proportion of training practices and GP educational and clinical supervisors.
  • Increase the quantity of undergraduate teaching in general practice.
  • Review funding into undergraduate placements in general practice.
  • Review the career structure and pathways for GPs interested in undergraduate medical education or clinical research.




The recommendations were aimed at improving the workforce capacity across primary care in Medway to ensure patients receive better access and outcomes for their health needs.

Supporting documents: