Birmingham SmartCare

Primary Care Network

Birmingham SmartCare Federation has one Primary Care Network (PCN) which is led by one of our Clinical Directors – Dr Andreas Melchior.

What is a PCN?

PCNs are groups of GP practices working closely together – along with other healthcare staff and organisations – providing integrated services to the local population.
PCNs are a key part of the NHS long term plan with all general practices being required to be in a network by June 2019. PCNs are based on general practice registered lists, typically serving natural communities of around 30,000 to 50,000 patients. They should be small enough to provide the personal care valued by both patients and healthcare professionals, but large enough to have impact and economies of scale through better collaboration between general practices and others in the local health and social care system.
FCP - First Contact Physiotherapy
Birmingham SmartCare Federation are now offering First Contact Physiotherapy appointments to its member practices.

What is a First Contact Practictioner?

A first contact practitioner (FCP) is an experienced physiotherapist who has the advanced skills necessary to assess, diagnose and recommend appropriate treatment or referral for musculoskeletal (MSK) problems on a patient’s first contact with healthcare services e.g. when they visit their GP surgery.

Patients with MSK complaints can be booked in to see an FCP by a GP receptionist or GP. An FCP offers expert MSK assessment and diagnosis, however, is also integrated within the multi-disciplinary team in each GP practice. If appropriate, an FCP may prescribe a programme of exercises, refer for blood tests or X-ray, administer steroid injections, or refer a patient to an appropriate secondary health service e.g. rheumatology or orthopaedics.

All FCP’s are trained to identify ‘red flag’ symptoms which may require medical attention.

PCN - Social Prescribing Link Worker
Birmingham SmartCare Federation are now offering Social Prescribing appointments to its member practices.

Social prescribing, also sometimes known as community referral, is a means of enabling health professionals to refer people to a range of local, non-clinical services. The referrals generally, but not exclusively, come from professionals working in primary care settings, for example, GPs or practice nurses.  

Recognising that people’s health and wellbeing are determined mostly by a range of socia, economic and environmental factors, social prescribing seeks to address people’s needs in a holistic way. It also aims to support individuals to take greater control of their own health. 

Schemes delivering social prescribing can involve a range of activities that are typically provided by voluntary and community sector organisations. Examples include volunteering, arts activities, group learning, gardening, befriending, cookery, healthy eating advice and a range of sports.  

Social prescribing is designed to support people with a wide range of social, emotional or practical needs, and many schemes are focused on improving mental health and physical wellbeing. Those who could benefit from social prescribing schemes include people with mild or long-term mental health problems, people with complex needs, people who are socially isolated and those with multiple long-term conditions who frequently attend either primary or secondary health care. 

PCN - Clinical Pharmacist
Clinical Pharmacists are now assisting practices with their day to day running of practice.

Within primary care, clinical pharmacists work as part of a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) in a patient facing role to clinically assess and treat patients, using their expert knowledge of medicines to add value to and to improve patient care and patient outcomes. The role of clinical pharmacists
working effectively within a general practice setting has been demonstrated over recent years, with the Clinical Pharmacists in General Practice programme. This initiative has placed over 900 additional clinical pharmacists into primary care. Employment models and the roles and responsibilities are varied, aiming to make full use of a pharmacist’s clinical skills and knowledge for the benefit of patients, to reallocate some tasks to
alleviate workload pressures, and to enable GPs to focus their skills where they are most needed. Clinical pharmacists are those pharmacists that have undergone an 18 month training programme commissioned by NHS England.
The British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) support the important role that pharmacists can play within
PCNs, practices and the wider primary care team. We support the expansion of the pharmacist  workforce within general practice and care homes building upon previous programmes of work.

What will Clinical Pharmacists within a PCN do?

The majority of the clinical pharmacists’ role will be undertaken in consultations with patients, whether in the GP practice, care homes or as part of home visits. They will usually be independent prescribers, or will be completing training to become prescribers, and will work as part of the wider practice team, under the supervision of a GP. They will work closely with other members of the MDT in ensuring that patients with chronic diseases get the maximum benefits from their medicines as part of a shared decision making consultation. They will undertake structured medication reviews (SMRs) to proactively manage people with complex
polypharmacy, especially the elderly, people in care homes, those with multiple co-morbidities, frailty and people with learning disabilities or autism.
Clinical Pharmacists provide specialist expertise in the use of medicines, helping to address both the public health and social care needs of patients within a PCN and they help tackle inequalities by helping to improve access to care. These pharmacists can additionally help to provide leadership on person centered medicines optimisation and quality improvement, contributing
to the quality and outcomes framework (QOF) and enhanced services across the PCN. These pharmacists support patients to get the best from their medicines, reduce waste and promote self-care.
Clinical pharmacists will have a significant role in supporting further integration of primary care with the wider healthcare teams, particularly with their clinical colleagues in community, mental health and hospital pharmacy.

PCN - Early Cancer Diagnosis

 “We aspire to be a leading GP Provider Federation, run by clinicians for the benefit of our local SmartCare population. We will achieve this by working with patients and partners to ensure that general practice remains resilient, sustainable and independent to deliver high quality services for all of our patients.”