What is the Symphony Programme?
In 2015, the south Somerset Symphony Programme was created through Yeovil Hospital and key healthcare organisations within south Somerset. The programme was given ‘vanguard status’ (special project funding from NHS England) and tasked with creating innovative new ways of delivering healthcare to patients and in particular, strengthening and supporting primary care to support GPs and ease the pressure on the NHS as a whole.
What happened next?
One of the key targets of the programme was to develop different types of healthcare services known as ‘new models of care’. This new model developed a Complex Care Service, for the top 4% of patients with the most complex long-term healthcare conditions and an Enhanced Primary Care Service that has seen the Health Coach role introduced into 17 GP practices across south Somerset. Alongside this, community based preventative work was launched to strengthen the links between Symphony services and practices and the health & wellbeing support that is available in the community.
In addition, a new primary care operating company; Symphony Healthcare Services was launched that enabled GP practices to join together under a larger NHS organisation.
Tell me more about Enhanced Primary Care
The Enhanced Primary Care model looked at different ways of supporting existing services in primary care and how new roles could be introduced to help reduce the pressure on GP practices and support patients in a different way.
The role of the Health Coach was designed to help support the role of the GP and provide additional support to patients in managing new or existing health conditions. This has been a fantastic addition to practices across south Somerset, with over 12,000 patients using the 52 Health Coaches in place – making a real positive difference to patients and GPs alike.
Other new roles are also being developed as part of a multi-disciplinary team approach. This moves away from the traditional model in primary care, where the majority of patient appointments are with the GP.
The new teams include Health Coaches and clinical specialists such as; Pharmacists, Musculoskeletal Practitioners, Enhanced Care Practitioners and Advanced Nurse Practitioners who are able to support both patients and GPs alike. Developing new roles also helps GPs to focus on the patients with the most complex healthcare needs, reduce referrals to the hospital, cut down on waiting times and unnecessary duplication.
What is happening with the Complex Care Service?
The complex care service now operates from three bases and including Yeovil, Wincanton and South Petherton; supporting patients with the most complex health conditions. New roles such as Complex Care GPs and Nurses along with Key Workers help to care for patients alongside their registered GP. This enables patients to avoid unnecessary admission to hospital and can also cut down on the number of days that a patient is admitted.
In March this year, the complex care team started working much more closely with Somerset Partnership teams and are now based together to ensure a joined up approach is taken to patient care.
For the latest information on the new models of care please visit: www.symphonyintegratedhealthcare.com
Community based preventative work
This has involved creating three new Health & Wellbeing partnerships in Yeovil, Wincanton and South Petherton, addressing local priorities such as raising awareness of Dementia, addressing loneliness and rural transport access issues and improving mental health support for young people. To improve signposting to available services, support groups and activities, the South Somerset Wellbeing Directory was produced, community signposting workshops are being delivered, new support groups are being set up with Health Coaches and a new volunteer scheme called Community Ambassadors has been created, which seeks to help health authorities improve the design of their services.
Why is primary care under pressure?
Across the country many existing GPs and GP partners are retiring, or looking to work in a less pressured environment. With a national shortage of GPs it is becoming much harder to recruit and replace existing GP positions, which means that practices often struggle to meet patient demand.
In addition, our demographics are changing. With new treatments and medicines now available, we are all living longer and in rural counties in particular like Somerset, we have a growing population who are over the age of 65. This has also created an additional strain on primary care, with the average number of appointments per patient, per year, increasing as we get older.
What is Symphony Healthcare Services?
In April 2016 Symphony Healthcare Services (SHS) was launched after a number of struggling GP Practices approached Yeovil Hospital for support. By joining together, SHS aims to help practices to meet the current and future challenges of providing and adapting healthcare services that are sustainable, high quality and can meet the changing needs of patients both today and in to the future.
The aim of Symphony Healthcare Services is to support practices to develop their healthcare services that will help to strengthen primary care across south Somerset and retain the GPs and healthcare teams to provide the care required by patients.
Since the launch in 2016, SHS now has seven GP practices that have chosen to join together, looking after over 60,000 patients. More practices are likely to join over the coming months.
For more information visit the SHS website: www.symphonyhealthcareservices.com