Wakefield GP group wins two major healthcare awards for improving access for patients

A pioneering training programme developed in Wakefield that gives GP practice receptionists the skills to advise on local health and social care services that could help patients faster, has won two major national healthcare awards in one week.

Wakefield GP confederation, Conexus Healthcare won the ‘Community or Primary Care Services Redesign (North/Midlands/East)’ category, at the 2018 HSJ Awards and ‘Training Provider of the Year’ at the GP Awards for its national consultancy and training programme on care navigation.

The locally-developed GP scheme was originally created in 2014 as a pilot project and has since spread nationally, being recognised by GPs and healthcare leaders alike for improving access and reducing pressures on GPs.

More than 15 per cent of patients in England and around 20 per cent of patients in Wales are registered with surgeries that have been, or are being trained, using the Wakefield model. In Wakefield, there are now over 270 fully-trained ‘care navigators’ supporting patients every day to reach the right service fast.

When a patient calls their GP practice, the conversation now goes far beyond exploring when the doctor might next be available. Receptionists are trained to ask patients for more information about the nature of the call in case there is another professional or service that’s more appropriate.

And patients overwhelmingly support the scheme in the areas where it has been rolled out. In South Tees, over 12,000 patients were signposted in the first four months of the new approach. In 27 per cent of cases, patients found they could be seen by the practice nurse rather than the GP for their problem.

Celebrating the awards, Conexus Healthcare care navigation programme manager, David Cowan, comments: “Care navigation not only reduces pressures on GPs but more importantly means patients get to the best service fast. Receptionists and patients alike are empowered by it.

Wakefield has been recognised before for its work on care navigation but winning two major awards in the space of a week is pretty rewarding! To be awarded by our peers who believe we have made such a difference to those who use and work in primary care, means so much to everyone at Conexus.”

The HSJ Awards is a national awards ceremony celebrating the projects and initiatives taking place across the UK in the NHS, and is considered the industry’s highest accolade. The GP Awards is a national awards ceremony that highlights and showcases the very best examples of hard work, innovation and dedication in primary care, as well as the support offered by suppliers and service providers.

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