News & Media

Andrew Darke explores the concept of the Primary Care Home as early pilots begin to shape across the UK


A relatively new concept, the Primary Care Home is all about GPs working together as part of a wider primary care professional team. It’s not just GPs – it’s embodying everything that stands for services in the community.

I’m not sure that the name gives absolute clarity to the layperson on what it is but it’s certainly much more than what it says on the tin. It’s all about GPs working collaboratively with other health professionals in the community to deliver an extended range of primary care services, ranging from pharmacy through to chiropody to community nursing, through to physiotherapy and outreach services from secondary care. It’s a form of Multispecialty community provider model with a provision of care to a defined population of between 30,000 and 50,000; with an integrated workforce and a strong focus on partnerships spanning primary, secondary and social care. The National Association of Primary Care regards effective Primary Care as having four central features: first point of contact for all new health needs; person-centred, rather than disease-focused, continuous lifetime care; comprehensive care provided for all needs that are common in a population; and co-ordination and integration of care when a person’s need is sufficiently uncommon so to require special services or provision from another sector (secondary or tertiary care).

It’s delivering more in primary care, which is wholly in line with the GP Forward View and the Five Year Forward View. It’s also very much at the core of Assura’s focus on improved and extended use of the primary care estate. Of course those are also its shortcomings, because much of the primary care estate, as described by NHS England, needs replacing or renewing, and improving if not bulldozing.

We are very keen to support the idea of the Primary Care Home. And certainly the rapid test sites do seem to be gaining some momentum and headway in effecting change. The big issue around most things in the NHS is that there is a lot of theorising and often not much productivity and activity, whereas the Primary Care Home is actually seeing real activity around the country.

Could it be rolled out nationally? In theory, yes, but only where the population density permits it. Otherwise you’re going to have patients in some areas being very spread out. Like everything in healthcare, one size does not fit all.

It is a good model but it’s all about the realisation that the single GP practice working in isolation away from the rest of the primary care health service providers may be starting to become a thing of the past.

GPs have to start working together, particularly in delivering extended hours and a wider range of services. The NHS wants to deliver cost savings and efficiencies of service, and that means that more and more has to be delivered in the Primary Care Home, which will have an impact on healthcare estate.

It’s an exciting concept and one that shows there is an appetite out there amongst GPs to bring about real change to the way services are delivered for the benefit of all.

So things are looking positive. We see this as a big development in healthcare for Assura and other companies who are ready, willing and able to deliver the necessary estate for these models of transformational change.


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