Vision for GP surgeries to form ‘community hospital’

Sarah Henley, head of primary care development, and Dr Tim Kimber from Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group
Sarah Henley, head of primary care development, and Dr Tim Kimber from Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group
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Healthcare bosses have outlined a vision which would see all GP surgeries in Littlehampton working together as a ‘community hospital’.

Dr Tim Kimber, GP at The Park Surgery in Littlehampton, and Sarah Henley, head of primary care development at Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), discussed the plans.

We are very excited about the whole point of this agreement, which is to reinvest in general practice, get services in the community and work together to become more resilient

Sarah Henley

As part of the CCG’s vision, surgeries would work together to form what Dr Kimber described as a ‘virtual community hospital’. This would allow GPs to specialise in areas such as women’s health and ultrasound services and treat patients that would otherwise have to be seen in a hospital.

He said: “What we will have is a virtual community hospital that will be providing services we have been talking about for many years.”

Dr Kimber cited the new minor injuries unit in his practice as being part of this plan, which would attract young GPs looking for a more diverse career and help surgeries to cope with more housing being built.

A document known as the General Practice Transformation Agreement which included these plans had been approved by senior GPs across the West Sussex coast, Ms Henley added.

She said: “We are very excited about the whole point of this agreement, which is to reinvest in general practice, get services in the community and work together to become more resilient.”

Ms Henley also responded to people’s concerns about slow progress on a new GP surgery at the Morrisons site in Wick and the future of the former Littlehampton Hospital site.

Ms Henley said: “Morrisons aside, because that is in progress, all is not lost in Arun about property because we have a strategy. That is the message I would like to give to the public that don’t see progress.”

Dr Tim Kimber, GP at The Park Surgery in Littlehampton, added: “It is a debate we managed to win with Arun District Council; let’s not focus on bricks and mortar, let’s focus on services.”

Ms Henley said parademic and nurse practicioners that work in GP surgeries were ‘key players’ in the new plans by freeing up doctors to treat more complex cases.

Dr Kimber said: “With our frontline paramedics and nurses, the overwhelming majority of patients are satisifed with the service they give, but sometimes I still hear it said that they want to see a doctor.

“We are asking the population to come with us on this new skill mix so we have the staff to deal with increased demand but there has to be an increased flexibility to free up the GPs to manage the more complex cases.”

Following the closure of Arun Medical Group’s East Street surgery in October, Dr Kimber announced remaining surgeries had managed to recruit staff to cope with the increased levels of patients.

Ms Henley said lessons had been learnt by the closure – namely that practices needed to communicate with each other better to prevent a similar situation reoccuring.

As previously reported, a business plan for the surgery at Morrisons is scheduled for January.

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