Clinicians in Southampton have been celebrating the success of an innovative scheme in which consultants and GPs came together to help bring about greater integration between hospitals and GP surgeries.
The scheme, known as the GP-Consultant Liaison Scheme, involved consultants and GPs spending time in pairs shadowing one another in each other’s roles.
Consultants working at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust voluntarily signed up to spend half a day in one of the city’s GP practices, and this was followed by GPs spending half a day shadowing the same consultant at Southampton General Hospital.
This aim of this scheme was to bring these health professionals together to better understand one another’s challenges at work and find new opportunities to improve the care of the city’s patients.
Led by NHS Southampton City CCG’s GP board lead for primary care, Dr Pritti Aggarwal, the scheme started in autumn 2017 and over 100 clinicians have taken part so far.
Feedback from the scheme so far has been positive, with many participants requesting a further opportunity to shadow a colleague in a different location or speciality.
In particular, GPs and consultants reflected on the need to constantly improve communication between them, especially in light of new technologies, and to share training opportunities.
John Richards, Chief Executive Officer at NHS Southampton City CCG, and Fiona Dalton, Chief Executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, praised the scheme in a joint statement:
“Both the Trust and the CCG wholeheartedly support this initiative.
“Whilst it might seem an obvious thing to many people, the reality is that a healthy dialogue between GPs and specialists is increasingly challenging in the world of modern healthcare. This gives a chance for doctors to reaffirm the values that they all share and to better appreciate each other’s perspective.
“We are confident this will lead directly to better ‘joined up’ care being provided to our patients.”
Dr Pritti Aggarwal, a member of NHS Southampton City CCG’s governing body and a local GP, added:
“Southampton’s GP-Consultant Liaison Scheme is a great opportunity for GPs like me and our excellent consultants to improve their understanding of each other’s jobs.
“The whole point of this scheme has been to find ways for all of us in the NHS, whether we work in a hospital or out in the community, to improve the care of patients in Southampton. We are at the start of our journey and we hope this excellent initiative will continue to build relationships and share learning across the city.”
To mark the success so far, GPs and consultants came together last week to celebrate and reflect on the liaison scheme at an event held at the Heartbeat Suite in Southampton General Hospital.
In addition to discussing how learning from the scheme could be used to improve care for patients, the event was also joined by well-respected health academic Professor Michael West.
Professor West spoke reflected on how schemes such as this lead to a better dialogue between consultants and GPs, which means better care for patients. He also spoke about the importance of compassionate leadership.
Professor Michael West said:
“In order to respond to the challenges facing us in delivering health care services, it is essential for us to work together in an integrated way to the benefit of patients.
“This event is an outstanding way for professionals to come together to discover how to ensure high quality, continually improving and compassionate care for patients and our communities.”
Professor West is a Senior Fellow at the King’s Fund and Professor of Organisational Psychology at Lancaster University, and he provides regular policy advice to many national NHS organisations. From 2009 to 2013, he led the Department of Health Policy Research Programme into cultures of quality and safety in the NHS in England.