GP Consultant Exchange Programme

Dr Pritti Aggarwal, Southampton

The problem:

Working within the Governing Body of Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) provided invaluable insight into the barriers between primary and secondary care. We found these barriers often led to frustration on multiple levels, and potentially impact patient care and safety. Recognising that better interprofessional relationships drive improved patient care and outcomes, we set out to understand barriers – whether relational, reputational, historical, invisible or infrastructural – between primary and secondary care.

We believed these perceived barriers have been to the detriment of quality patient care. Our ambitions were to reconnect individuals and foster deeper partnerships between our clinicians that would ignite opportunities for innovation and quality improvement. Our aim was to develop compassionate leadership, better working relationships, appreciation of the work we all do that would lead to co-owned local solutions and mutual care of patients.

The Bright Idea:

We implemented and facilitated a GP consultant liaison scheme. Similar schemes were initiated in Portsmouth (2015) and Basingstoke (2017). In our 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 they face within the NHS. We paired 59 consultants and 59 GPs together; planning the pairing as far 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 submitting voluntarily 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.
    Professional development
  • 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 include local press, University of Southampton Faculty of Medicine, CCG and TVWLA websites and through 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 SCCCG governing board.

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

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