Primary care – or GP services, are very often the first, or only, access people have with the health and care system. Primary care provides a front door for support, treatment and intervention. In the last 10 years demand for primary care has risen exponentially with people’s expectation remaining high and rising. People tell us they want to see a GP quickly and want to be able to deal with all their problems in one place. However the demand and expectation is outstripping both resources and what it is possible to provide on the ground. In Sussex we want people to get the right care in the right place as quickly as possible – that might not always mean seeing a GP first.
We know that through community services we are keeping more people closer to home and living more independently for longer. Our community providers deliver outpatient appointments and treatment, care in people’s homes and in care homes and support people to stay healthier, longer. People tell us they want to receive their care in this way, to prevent unnecessary hospital stays. We work really closely across health and care services to support people with tailored care packages and this is an area we need to develop further still.
For many conditions we need to give people quicker access to the specialist that can help them sooner. We have lots of provision in place for people to self-refer into specialist providers – be that physiotherapy, dermatology or mental health.
However we also know that people feel it is too hard to get an appointment with a GP in some parts of Sussex. By working in a truly integrated way we can start to map health services to the patient, rather than trying to put people into the right boxes for the organisations.
If we can look across the system at how people come into contact with services, when they need help and who is best placed to deliver it, then we will have a sustainable health and care service that is fit for now and for the way out population is growing and changing. It’s important to note that as we develop as a system we will focus on the population in a certain place; their needs and demographic and how that needs to be reflected in the services offered in that place. We will also be looking across Sussex at what things work better at scale, delivering a consistent standard of care, if not in the same way, wherever you live in the Sussex.