The General Practice Collaborative Board (GPCB) formed in 2020 to strengthen the voice of 24/7 general practice within Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucester (BNSSG).
The GPCB brings together all general practices within BNSSG, Avon Local Medical Committee and BrisDoc which provides the out-of-hours GP service. Hosted by One Care, the GP federation for BNSSG, the GPCB ensures the voice of general practice remains a ‘golden thread’ and is robustly represented within the new Integrated Care System (ICS).
The ICS was established on a statutory basis in July 2022, and brings together partners from health and social care, local authorities and the Integrated Care Board, which replaced the CCG in July 2022.
By bringing these partners together to work collaboratively, the ICS puts patients at the very heart of the system and builds services around their needs.
General practice is the bedrock for the health and care system, and deals with the majority of health interactions through multidisciplinary teams of GPs, nurse practitioners and other clinical and non-clinical staff members working within surgeries. GP surgeries care for patients from cradle to grave, and are uniquely placed to build trusting relationships with their patients.
General practice involvement is therefore essential to the success of an integrated care system. The GPCB has developed some key principles around how general practice works within the Integrated Care System in BNSSG. These will enable general practice to act as an equal partner in our system partnership, and will lead to proper general practice engagement in decision-making across healthcare in our area.
The principles the GPCB works to are:
- The GPCB is the go-to place for the system to engage with general practice
- General practice at-scale work should be funded by the system
- General practice should be involved in all system programmes from the outset
- Each programme requires programme management, as well as clinical and non-clinical input
- General practice engagement in system work will be prioritised in line with GPCB priorities
By following these principles, we ensure the expertise and experience of general practice is involved in any design of pathways and services. The principles also ensure voices are heard from across all general practice, the right expertise is found, and any progress made is shared back across all 76 practices in the area. We are working closely with our ICS partners to embed these new ways of working across everything we do in our system.
Dr Katrina Boutin, GP in Inner City and East Bristol and the Vice-Chair of the GPCB, said “Agreeing the principles of general practice engagement with our partners is an important step in partnership working in the new Integrated Care System. This is so we can ensure all partners are working consistently and collaboratively together to support our local populations, improve services and reduce inequalities.
Currently the GPCB is working within the system on several programmes: digital strategy; mass vaccinations; outpatients and urgent care. These programmes are steered by committees comprising clinical and non-clinical general practice representatives with a specialist interest in that area, and led by a clinical lead and programme manager.
These programmes are supported by One Care business intelligence, communications and digital expertise to enable change management within practices.
Successes to date include: coordinating the successful general practice aspect of the Covid vaccination programme; working with secondary care on outpatients processes to support the patient journey; and developing an urgent care strategy that supports patients being seen in the right place at the right time.