Health professionals issue joint primary care vision

Written by Tom Freeman on 2 September 2016 in News

Exclusive: Seven professional bodies release shared vision for primary care

Changes to frontline NHS services should remain focused on the needs of individuals and communities, seven of Scotland’s leading professional health bodies have said.

In a document seen by Holyrood, the professional bodies provide a definition of ‘primary care’ amid Scottish Government testing of new models of service and reviews of their respective workforces.

They said “rapid and substantial change” in primary care had led to a lack in clarity about what it means.


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The shared vision is signed by The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), Optometry Scotland, Community Pharmacy Scotland, the Allied Health Professionals Federation (AHPF) and the Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland (QNIS).

“We have come together to agree what we mean by ‘primary care’ and to set out shared principles which we believe should underpin the future for people in Scottish communities who need the support of generalist clinical staff,” it said.

Maintaining the ‘generalist’ nature of such services – with easy access to specialists – is among the 21 principles which they hope will be endorsed by government in any future negotiations.

Services should be delivered by “primary care networks” which would be built around the individual needs of the person they are treating and local communities, rather than a fixed multidisciplinary team. These networks would use "a mixture of clinical and social approaches" between "trusting and respectful" professional partners. 

This must be backed up by investment in “necessary infrastructure” and “up-to-date” technology, the document says, but government should focus on supporting the network of professionals rather than "the buildings in which they are located".

RCGP Scotland chair Dr Miles Mack called the document a “united, multi-disciplinary vision for the future of primary care in Scotland.”

Harry McQuillan, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland said the bodies represent 60,000 clinicians across Scotland, who were “a considerable resource to help bring about change”.

Clare Cable, chief executive and nurse director of QNIS, said: “Central to our vision are people, not structures.  Strong relationships are, and always should be, at the very heart of primary care.  They will certainly be key to designing and implementing successful change.”

Responding, Health Secretary Shona Robison told Holyrood“I warmly welcome this joint contribution from the professional bodies, which fully fits with our vision for primary care and community health set out in the National Clinical Strategy.

“The Scottish Government is already working to transform primary care using our £85 million Primary Care Fund. This will develop new ways of working that will help to put in place long-term, sustainable change within primary care services that can better meet changing needs and demands. We have also committed to giving primary care an increasing share of NHS budget in each year of this parliament.” 

Third sector organisation the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) welcomed the publication.

Chief executive Ian Welsh said it showed “a commitment to the principles of many of the emerging new models of primary care, such as the National Links Worker Programme and the House of Care, which champion the vital contribution that people who use primary care can make and highlight the third sector’s role in maintaining and improving health.”

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