Misgivings Over Integrated Care Systems in England: Poll

Nicky Broyd

August 02, 2021

A survey on NHS reorganisation by Guidelines in Practice, part of the Medscape professional network, suggests that while the healthcare workforce is optimistic about the potential to improve patient care, significant barriers to implementation remain.

The restructuring will see GP practices working in partnership with community, mental health, social care, pharmacy, hospital, and voluntary services from April next year.

A total of 270 GPs and healthcare professionals responded to the survey conducted online from 24 June to 7 July, and the data was analysed in aggregate.

Among the findings:

  • 65% feel that a wider skill mix in primary care will lead to more comprehensive care for patients

  • 75% are not confident the restructure will succeed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic

  • 59% believe there is insufficient funding to support workforce development

  • 31% feel that the changes have already freed up GP time

  • 26% think that GP workload has reduced as a result

  • 75% of practices have already appointed clinical pharmacists

  • 57% have appointed social prescribing link workers

  • 48% have appointed physiotherapists

  • 78% of respondents consider it feasible or very feasible for their GP practice to collaborate in local partnerships

Angela O'Neill, editor of Guidelines in Practice, said: "Although some GPs, nurses, and pharmacists recognise the potential of the restructure to enable more seamless care for patients, many are dismayed about the limited time and resources to implement the changes. It is clear that additional funding and support is needed if primary care is to harness the potential benefits of the new NHS model."

Primary Care Funding

Separately, a report from the NHS Confederation's Primary Care Network (PCN) finds more funding, support, and autonomy is needed for PCNs post-pandemic.

Chair, Dr Pramit Patel, said: "Colleagues are clear there is a way to go, but with the right resource and space, PCNs can be invaluable in getting the NHS Long Term Plan back on track in driving forward expanded and improved services for patients, enhancing out of hospital care and supporting people to stay well in the community.

"With a sizeable elective treatment backlog and the population’s health having taken a hit during the pandemic, this agenda is more important than ever."

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