• Symphony Healthcare Services, a company owned by Yeovil District Hospital, is set to take over five more GP practices this year
  • It already runs eight GP practices and will cover a practice population of more than 100,000
  • Vanguard claims a 7.5 per cent reduction in overnight emergency admissions

An acute trust leading a new care model vanguard is set to take on the running of five further GP practices this year.

Symphony Healthcare Services, a subsidiary company owned by Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust, already runs eight GP practices and has revealed it hopes to acquire five more practices by August.

Symphony Healthcare Services and Yeovil District Hospital are the main providers in the South Somerset primary and acute care system – part of NHS England’s national vanguard programme.

According to the Somerset project’s leaders, the vanguard’s population has seen a 7.5 per cent reduction in emergency admissions with an overnight stay so far in 2017-18, compared to 2016-17, and a 15 per cent drop in non-elective bed days.

In an exclusive interview with HSJ, Mandy Seymour-Hanbury, managing director of Symphony Healthcare Services, revealed the company was in talks with five GP practices in south Somerset.

The organisation, set up in 2015, currently runs eight GP practices covering a population of around 61,000. Six of these practices are in south Somerset.

The new practices will bring its GP population covered to more than 100,000, and 12 out of the 16 practices involved in the South Somerset vanguard programme.

Ms Seymour-Hanury told HSJ it was also looking at developing links with the other practices in Somerset. “What we’re looking at now is whether we can offer other things to help sustain all practices,” she said.

“So could we offer some of the back office functions, functions around HR, finance, could we offer those services to practices where they may not want to integrate but may want us to provide some recruitment, HR, governance, [and Care Quality Commission related support].”

Jeremy Martin, programme director for the South Somerset vanguard, told HSJ: “The last practice came on board [with the vanguard] just under a year ago March 2017. The first practices started year before that.

“We have [since] started to see change in hospital admissions profile from September [2016]… Currently for this year overnight admissions we are 7.5 per cent down compared to last [and] If you look at non-elective bed days we are 15 per cent lower.”

One scheme highlighted by Mr Martin as a potential cause of the reduction are the vanguard’s complex care teams, which work with GP practices to treat patients with the most complex needs.