Areas testing the “primary care home” model for general practice have shown “significant reductions” in A&E attendances and lower GP waiting times, new data reveals.

Primary care home is a new care model being developed by the National Association of Primary Care. It proposes practices collaborating across populations of 30,000-50,000, establishing “hubs” to provide an extended range of services via multidisciplinary clinical teams.

Analysis, published by the NAPC and PA Consulting last week, shows a reduction in accident and emergency admissions across two of the PCH pilot sites and a drop in the waiting times for GP appointments in another.

NHS England said last week it plans to have GP practices divided in to “hubs or networks” covering the same population size as the PCH pilots over the next two years.

The analysis looks at three of the 15 PCH “rapid test” sites that launched in December 2015. It found:

  • A reduction in the average waiting time for GP appointments from 14 to eight days over six months at the site run by Beacon Medical Group in Devon and Cornwall.
  • An estimated £295,000 of savings linked to a reduction of 14 A&E admissions per week at the Thanet site.
  • An 8 per cent reduction in non-elective A&E admissions at the Larwood and Bawtry site.

All rapid test sites where given investment of £40,000 in 2016-17 through the NHS England new care models programme.

The report also shows improved GP and community nurse recruitment rates at Thanet and Larwood and Bawtry.

However, the report does not establish a definite “causal” link between the work done by the PCH sites and reductions in emergency admissions.

HSJ understands the NAPC is carrying out a deeper analysis of all 15 sites, due to be published shortly, which will look into causality.

Since launching the rapid test sites, the NAPC has rolled out the PCH model to 77 more locations.

NAPC chair Nav Chana said: “This report provides confidence that the PCH model is helping to make a real and much needed difference to patients and staff as well as easing pressures on the wider health system. It shows that it is inspiring staff to embrace and own change at a time when it’s urgently needed”.

James Kingsland, president of the NAPC, said: “The rapid adoption and spread of PCH demonstrates that this is what our colleagues have always been looking to do – a vehicle to deliver change that’s quick to get up and running, empowering for staff and patients and realistic in that it grows from established list based practice”.