In April 2016, Symphony Healthcare Services (SHS) was created after three GP practices approached Yeovil Hospital directly for help. Ilchester Surgery, Yeovil Health Centre and Buttercross Health Centre in Somerton were the first practices to integrate with SHS.
Like many GP practices locally and nationally, these practices had been struggling to manage the operational and financial pressures on the surgery; with difficulties in recruiting permanent GPs, rising costs, growing patient numbers and demand, along with increasingly complex healthcare needs.
By joining together and creating a network of GP practices, we aim to support practices to adapt their healthcare services to meet the current and future needs of patients.
Symphony Healthcare Services was developed as part of the Symphony Programme as a way of offering further support to GP Practices and ensuring that Primary Care had the capacity to reduce activity on hospital services.
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 high quality care to patients and in particular, strengthening and supporting primary care to support GPs and ease the pressure on the NHS as a whole.
One of the key targets of the Symphony 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.
Is it private healthcare?
No, we are an NHS healthcare organisation. SHS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yeovil Hospital that operates as an ‘arm’s length’ General Practice company.
The healthcare services that we provide our patients are funded by the NHS through the same contracts as any other GP practice. We work very closely with NHS England, the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Local Medical Committee (LMC) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure that the care we provide meets the high standards set.
Which practices have joined Symphony Healthcare Services?
Currently, ten GP practices have joined together with Symphony Healthcare Services (SHS) including; Yeovil Health Centre, Ilchester Surgery, Buttercross Health Centre (Somerton), West One Surgery, Crewkerne Health Centre, Oaklands Surgery in Yeovil, Highbridge Medical Centre, St Lukes & Greenswood Medical Centre in Brixham, Devon and Hamdon Medical Centre. We are also in discussion with a number of other GP practices, so we are very likely to grow.
Since our initial launch, SHS has grown to support GP practices across a wider geographical area across the south west; in particular those practices who share the same challenges of recruiting and retaining GPs, more complex patient healthcare needs and an ageing demographic. Over the past few months, increasing numbers of well run, stable practices are also choosing to integrate with SHS, as part of their strategic vision for the future.
How will Symphony Healthcare Services support GP practices?
Practices that choose to join SHS will benefit from the additional support of an experienced central team; providing support with back office functions as well as clinical expertise, enabling GPs and practice healthcare teams to focus more on patient care.
With reducing numbers of GPs nationally and increasing patient needs, the traditional local GP surgery needs to be able to adapt the way that healthcare services can be offered and to extend the range of healthcare professionals who work alongside doctors.
Being part of a larger organisation means that we can provide additional clinical expertise to help practices to develop the teams and skills required for the future. New roles are being developed as part of a multi-disciplinary team to support the GP. These new specialist roles include; Pharmacists, Musculoskeletal Practitioners (MSK) and Enhanced Care Practitioners, as well as developing specialist training in the community away from the hospital.
This model aims to reduce referrals to the hospital, cut down on waiting times, unnecessary duplication and improve a patient’s experience. By developing these multi-disciplinary teams across our practices, we can support the patients with the most complex healthcare needs, as well as helping patients to manage their existing health conditions at home, without unnecessary admittance to hospital. An extended team also provides more choice for patients and reduces the reliance on doctors.
What changes will we see?
Initially very few, the aim of Symphony Healthcare Services is to support practices to develop their healthcare services to strengthen primary care across south Somerset and help to retain and recruit the healthcare teams required to provide high quality healthcare services for patients. In time, our aim will be to develop opportunities for SHS practices to work together more closely; providing services for the local patient population.
We will work together with all our practices to develop and extend our healthcare teams through a
multi-disciplinary approach; helping to manage GP workloads and offer patients a wider choice of specialist services.
Our central support team will support and encourage practices to develop new ways of meeting the
changing needs of patients; working closely with our Clinical Lead network and Practice Manager teams to share ideas, knowledge and to promote innovation and transformation for the future.
‘To provide seamless, integrated healthcare to enable our patients to lead healthy, independent lives ‘
You can find out more information about Symphony Healthcare Services by visiting www.symphonyhealthcareservices.com.
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