RCGP Bright Ideas: GP Consultant Exchange Programme

Dr Pritti Aggarwal and Dr Sally Ross

Dr Pritti Aggarwal and colleague, Dr Sally Ross

10 January 2020

The RCGP Bright Ideas Awards were established to inspire, celebrate and recognise fresh thinking in primary care. They are part of the College’s Bright Ideas initiative, which celebrates new approaches from the frontline, shares them through an online platform and helps to spread the ideas through workshops. 

Last October, Dr Pritti Aggarwal, from the Living Well Partnership, Southampton, was awarded an RCGP Bright Ideas Award for an innovative GP Exchange programme involving primary and secondary care professionals. The programme improved interprofessional working, which is leading to better patient care.

The interface between primary and secondary care can be challenging leading to frustrations and implications to patient care and safety. With insight on how problematic this can be, Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) implemented an innovative Bright Idea, the GP Consultant Exchange Programme. This fostered deeper partnerships between clinicians and ignited opportunities for innovation and quality improvement.

Armed with the knowledge that better interprofessional relationships drive improved patient care and outcomes, the team at the CCG set out to gain a deeper understanding of the barriers between primary and secondary care – these can include relational, reputational, historical, infrastructural and others.  

Southampton City CCG perceived the barriers to be detrimental to the quality of patient care, their ambition was to reconnect individuals and foster deeper partnerships between clinicians. They aimed to develop compassionate leadership, better working relationships, and appreciation of the work done by clinicians that would lead to co-owned local solutions and mutual care of patients.

The Bright Idea:

Southampton City CCG implemented and facilitated a GP consultant liaison scheme. Similar schemes had been initiated in Portsmouth (2015) and Basingstoke (2017). In the Southampton scheme, secondary care consultants from University Hospitals Southampton and local GPs volunteered to host and visit each other’s workplaces for half a day to appreciate the challenges faced within the NHS. They paired 59 consultants and 59 GPs together; planning the pairing as closely as possible. For example, a GP was paired with a geriatrician working within the GP’s locality to enhance working relationships.

All clinicians completed an anonymous reflection template of their experiences, submitted to the project lead. The reflection templates were categorized and analysed for common themes to determine if practical and pragmatic changes could be implemented to improve the local delivery of care. A celebration of the shared learning from this liaison took place in January 2018, where the emphasis was on compassionate leadership and next steps. The evening was accredited for continuing professional development (CPD) and all reflections contributed to participants’ appraisals under quality improvement activity.

The Impact:

Staff: Improved relationships and knowledge of what people do and who they can turn to.

Other: The celebratory event brought together the clinicians and a wide range of local affiliated NHS organisations to share learning.

Our guest speaker during the celebratory event was Professor Michael West from the Kings Fund who commented:

“an outstanding way for professionals to come together to discover how to ensure high quality, continually improving and compassionate care for patients...”

 Coverage of the event was published in a range of outlets including local press, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine, CCG and Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy websites and through the RCGP Wessex Faculty e-newsletter. The event was captured on video and used to promote the scheme as well as teaching leadership and professional development within the local medical school.

The approach was presented to specialist trainees on their ‘Work Smart’ day, acute medical training day – secondary care, primary care TARGET GP education event and the Southampton City CCG governing board.

The event was graphically captured by a local student artist. The artwork is on display at the CCG, Wessex deanery and University Hospital Southampton.

RCGP Bright Ideas

The RCGP recognises and celebrates GPs their teams, practices and patients who come up with ideas to improve efficiency and improve workload through the RCGP Bright Ideas Awards. They are part of the College’s Bright Ideas project – an online platform where people can share ideas for small changes that can have a big impact on general practice. You can submit your Bright Idea by emailing the Bright Ideas Project Team.

In early 2020, the RCGP will deliver webinar masterclass sessions with selected Bright Ideas winners. The sessions will explore the local challenges faced by the team or individual, how they developed and implemented their Bright Idea, the impact it had and how it might transfer or scale in different contexts. There will also be an opportunity for a question and answer session. The one-hour long webinars can be accessed via your computer or tablet and are open to all (but particularly relevant for GPs and wider general practice teams). The first webinar, 'The Cancer Maps' will take place on 11 March 2020. Register here



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