Newsletter - August 2016 - Strengthening relationships and sharing insight

Earlier this year, Stockport Together held two networking sessions for the borough’s GPs and hospital consultants to strengthen relationships across the two professions.

Dr Cath Briggs is a GP at Stockport’s Bracondale Medical Centre and a Clinical Director at Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group. Dr Briggs is also part of the team leading Stockport Together vanguard.Here she takes stock and reflects following the event.

Having sat in many meetings over the past few years with both GP and consultant colleagues discussing how the once strong relationship between our two professions has been lessened over time, we decided to do something about it.

There are many reasons – or excuses – for this breakdown, with the most likely culprits being a lack of time and an increase in improvements which have meant that the need to pick up the phone and talk to a colleague at the hospital simply doesn’t exist anymore.

We realised that as time has gone on, and relationships haven’t been maintained, my colleagues and I felt that we had lost some of that knowledge, and were no longer sure who does what up at the hospital any more.

In Stockport, we have recently introduced the Consultant Connect service which allows GPs to contact hospital consultants in certain specialties via telephone for expert advice and guidance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

One of my fellow GPs, Dr Simon Woodworth, recently blogged about the success of new scheme and it also featured as a case study in the MCP emerging model and contract framework. In short, this means GPs get advice immediately and prevents the need for patients to be referred for an outpatient appointment. Since being launched, the service has cut hospital referrals by 70 per cent for patients needing haematology or endocrinology services.

How did we go about setting this up?

This was actually quite simple – we got back to basics. To ensure the success of the service, we decided that we needed a good old fashioned get together to remind ourselves who’s who, and to rebuild those relationships.

The first GP consultant session, held in March, featured a couple of presentations about the work happening in health and care across the borough, but the main attraction was the networking opportunity.

Fuelled by really positive feedback from GPs and consultants alike, we quickly set about planning our second session. Having made contact with the RCGPs to flag what we’re doing in Stockport, we managed to arrange for them to host our follow up meeting, meaning we were able to offer CPD (continuing professional development) points for attending.

The latest session asked GP and consultant colleagues to put themselves in the position of a patient, and consider how it feels to attend medical appointments. We had some really positive discussions across a number of groups, and the key take home message was that the understanding across both professions is growing and that we are all working as part of the same system.

For me, we have to keep reminding ourselves why we’re trying to change the way health and care is provided in Stockport: people. We’re all working to deliver a great service for people, and the more we can do to bring all of the health and care professionals together, the quicker we’ll make some really positive changes.

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