Taskforce’s collaborative work helps ease pressure in primary care

A group of health system staff and health consumers are pooling their experience and knowledge to address capacity pressures in primary care, which will make it easier for our communities to access care when they need it. 

The group, the Primary Care Taskforce (PCTF), was established earlier this year to identify and lead work to ease pressures on primary care. One of their first priorities was to survey general practice teams to gather feedback on what is contributing to the pressure on primary care, and where the taskforce should focus their efforts.

Responses highlighted that to improve general practice capacity in Canterbury it would be helpful to collectively prioritise:

  • reducing and finding better ways to deal with the increasing clinical administration; 
  • improving communication across the primary / secondary care interface; 
  • recruiting and retaining General Practitioners (GPs) and Practice Nurses (PNs); and
  • diversifying primary care teams to involve additional healthcare staff, such as clinical assistants, pharmacists, and nurse practitioners. 

View a summary of the results here.

To address some of the key findings from the survey, the PCTF engaged secondary care colleagues to discuss how to streamline pathways and processes that general practice teams identified as particularly problematic. 

Dr. Kim Burgess, PCTF Chair says it’s important for people working across our health system to connect, so we can help streamline the journey for our patients and healthcare teams. 

“The taskforce held a hui with our secondary care colleagues and also met with the Hospital and Specialist Services’ Chiefs and Chairs, so we could kōrero about the survey findings and keep communication channels open between us,” says Kim. 

A recently established group – the Primary Health Organisation Clinical Leads and Hospital and Specialist Services Integration Leads - are meeting to progress a collective response to known issues, including the areas to improve identified in the survey. The groups first priorities are to improve the patient journey and reduce administration by streamlining referrals and access to community transfusions and orthopaedic referrals.

The PCTF also produced a kete (basket of knowledge) to support general practice teams through the process of employing a person or tasking an existing member of their team to pre-sort and streamline GP/nurse practitioner’s clinical inbox tasks, for example record and file some tasks according to a set of rules, and annotate outpatient clinic letters or discharge summaries, so GPs can quickly see what needs to be prioritised. 

“We’ve created the kete to assist clinicians to respond to tasks in a timely way, have more time to care for patients and achieve a better work-life balance,” says Kim.

The kete is available via HealthPathways and includes templates, policies, case studies and videos.

St Martins Medical Centre GP Dr Lizzie Loudon, whose practice employs a Clinical Assistant to manage inboxes, says the response from her team has been overwhelmingly positive and their Clinical Assistant has become the favourite person in the practice. 

“She saves me 40-50% of my time on my inbox. The biggest pay off is the GPs don’t dread their inboxes like they used to, so it’s not an insurmountable task. From a wellbeing point of view, it’s had a big impact,” says Lizzie. 

The PCTF has also recently completed a series of focus groups exploring possible ways to retain the skills and knowledge of GPs and PNs who are contemplating leaving or retiring from general practice, and considering  ways to increase the involvement of other healthcare workers in general practice including clinical assistants and pharmacists. 

To find out more information about the PCTF go to the CCN website

Photo above: Hui held with primary and secondary care colleagues to discuss the survey findings and plan our system wide response including how to improve communication between them.

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