Unique Scheme Helps Patients Make Better Choices

Patients across Wakefield district are being offered greater support from GP staff, in a unique “Care Navigation” programme aimed at providing information on local health and wellbeing services to patients when they contact their GP practice.

The Care Navigation programme utilises trained frontline staff, known as “Care Navigators”, to provide patients with more information about services, both inside and outside of practices.

The programme focuses on providing patients with the choice to see other health and social care professionals, who may offer more appropriate and specialised support, to ensure they receive the right care quicker. As a result, this frees up GP appointments for other patients.

Currently there are 22 GP practices across Wakefield district supporting the programme, with 260 trained Care Navigators. Many of the GP practices delivering the programme have purpose-built Care Navigation rooms, in which Care Navigators can take patient phone calls and speak to them in private about the care they require. This has been an intricate part of the programme’s success in Wakefield, as it is acknowledged that some patients may feel uneasy speaking to a member of staff about why they require an appointment.

All Care Navigators receive rigorous training, provided through the Wakefield and district Connecting Care partnership network, on the specific services which are offered to patients within the programme.

From April to August 2017, over 5600 patients accepted navigations, and as a result Wakefield has seen improved patient outcomes, as highlighted by the newly published Healthwatch Wakefield report, in which 97% of patients surveyed where happy to see the alternative healthcare professional they were sign posted to.

Dr Phillip Earnshaw Chair of NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“The programme is about offering choice to patients on services they may not be aware of.  We are investing in new members of the practice team such as physiotherapists and pharmacists, and this scheme helps highlight their availability. If the patient feels none of the services offered are suitable, or that they require a GP appointment, the staff will support them in arranging one.

“The programme has received warm patient feedback, with many patients indicating Care Navigation is a good idea, as they did not have to wait for a GP appointment which in many circumstances was not needed to help their medical issue.”

Dr Pravin Jayakumar, Primary Care Lead for NHS Wakefield CCG said

“By supporting patients through Care Navigation, we are increasing awareness of other health and social care services which in many cases can offer patients the right support without seeing a GP. Care Navigation not only saves the patient time, but also enables more GP appointments are available for other patients.”

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