Strabane included in first phase of new £15m programme to transform GP care services

Thursday, 6 September 2018

STRABANE has been included in the first phase of a new £15 million programme to transform GP care with an expanded range of services available at local practice level.

On Friday, it was announced that Derry GP Federation - which covers in the region of 200,000 patients in the city, Claudy, Limavady and Strabane areas - and Down GP Federation will be the first to benefit from Multi Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) at their practices.

MDTs involve the establishment of practice-based physiotherapists, mental health specialists and social workers at GP practices - working alongside doctors and nurses to better meet the needs of the local population. The model includes significant investment in additional nursing specialist roles such as health visiting and district nursing.

The Department for Health says the teams are a key example of health and social care transformation, helping provide more care closer to people's homes and improving access times as well as helping patients have their issues resolved more quickly by reducing the need for referrals and appointments elsewhere.

This, in turn, will also ease demand pressures on hospitals. The approach will also see practice teams supported to identify opportunities for early intervention and patients will be supported in managing long-term conditions and dealing with lifestyle issues which can impact on their health.

The department's permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, said: "This is a very important step forward in the transformation journey. I look forward to MDTs being extended to other GP federations in the years ahead.

“By bringing in new professional roles to work alongside and support GPs and nurses, we can really improve care in communities and neighbourhoods. This will help us move to a system focussed on physical, mental and social wellbeing rather than just managing ill-health - with a greater focus placed on prevention and early intervention."

Health and Social Care Trusts are working with the GP Federations to start the recruitment processes for these new roles, with the new services expected to become available in the coming months. It is expected that in the region of 200 posts will be created across both areas.

Welcoming the development, local Sinn Féin MLA., Michaela Boyle, said: "As someone who has been pressing the case for a Strabane Primary Health Care Hub with health officials down through the years, this is a major step in that direction.
"So, I am delighted that Strabane is to be included in this first pilot scheme which will greatly enhance the range of services patients can access within the local GP Practice as well as across the wider Derry GP Practice area and Down."
She continued: "The recruitment of an estimated 200 new posts is now underway to provide these new community based services.
"Care within communities will be greatly improved by bringing in new professional roles to work alongside and support GPs and nurses, enabling patients to access the most appropriate service as quickly as possible. This is a very important part of the transformation agenda identified within the Bengoa report and which was begun by the then Health Minister, Michelle O'Neill.
"This is the direction of travel which healthcare must go in and the introduction of this scheme is tangible evidence of the transformation agenda now beginning to be rolled out within the health and social care service."


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