Flying the flag for Team GP the experts on hand to help with healthcare

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Did you know there are now a dozen different expert roles supporting patients across Cornwall’s GP surgeries? Each of these experts gives tailored help that matches a person’s needs. So, it’s not always the doctor you need to see. It’s time to think ‘#TeamGP’.

GP practices in Cornwall have never been so busy, with more than 358,000 appointments happening in January this year. That is 11 percent more than January 2022, with an 8 percent increase in face-to-face appointments.

This shows why the doctor is just one part of #TeamGP, who are on hand to provide both healthcare and wider community support.

GP? Think of me

This short film from NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly explains some of the specialised roles in modern general practice. They enable people to get the most appropriate help more quickly. These subject matter experts reduce pressure on busy GPs and are often far better placed to help with your needs.

GP? Think of me

We have created this short film to explain some of the specialised roles in modern general practice.

Dr John Garman is a GP and senior partner at Helston Medical Centre. He explains: “Your GP surgery is by no means only about its doctors. There is a whole team of people with specific skills and knowledge to care for a huge variety of patient need.

“For instance, demand for help with mental health matters has soared. A mental health practitioner can support with all of your mental health needs. They will ensure that you get the right treatment for you.

“They can even prescribe medicines, so there is no longer a need to see the GP. The appointment is a one stop shop, and patients will be referred for onward care when that is appropriate.”

Similarly, a clinical pharmacist can help with your medicines. They will make sure they are working well for you and can prescribe any changes.

Roles will vary from surgery to surgery. Increasingly, practices have a physiotherapist on hand. They can provide medicine-free pain relief for things such as headaches, neck ache, backache and so much more.

There are non-medical experts available from the team too. Social prescribers are at the heart of their local communities. They can support with all sorts of needs, from money matters and feeling lonely, to staying active for your health. 

A care coordinator can provide help with treatment plans, finding care packages, and family support. For example, if one half of a couple is a carer for the other and has to go into hospital, the care coordinator can arrange a package of support for the person staying at home. This can be an invaluable service for patients, their families and loved ones.

Importantly, these roles are proving successful. The engagement team from Healthwatch Cornwall have been talking to patients at local surgeries to help increase awareness, and to learn first-hand about people’s experiences. In response, they have heard praise and positive feedback.

One patient said she had been holding off making an appointment because she didn’t want to be a bother amid the pressures facing GPs. She was pleased to learn she may be able to see someone else instead. Another said that she was pleased with a paramedic appointment when needing to be seen on a same day basis. A paramedic practitioner can take care of things such as infections, closing wounds, and diagnostic tests.

Dr Garman wants patients to understand: “The receptionist (or care navigator as some are now called) will likely ask a few questions to help decide what is most appropriate for you. 

“This is normal and they are not being nosey! It is so that your care to be tailored to you, to see the right person in the right place at the right time. Please do treat our teams with kindness and respect. They are still working tirelessly to help you amid an assortment of challenges.

“Above all, keep in mind there is a range of experts at a GP surgery. It’s not always the doctor you need to see, and you will be offered an appointment that best suits your needs.”

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