PRIMARY CARE: A group of Hampshire GPs has teamed up with the country’s largest mental health and community services trust in a bid to create an integrated primary care centre.

Six member practices from New Forest Healthcare have submitted a bid alongside Southern Health Foundation Trust for funding from the second tranche of the prime minister’s challenge fund to set up the service.

If the bid, worth approximately £1m, is successful then the centre will provide routine and urgent care at Lymington New Forest Hospital, which is run by Southern Health.

The service, a primary care access centre, will be co-located alongside the hospital’s minor injuries unit, and will offer onsite access to diagnostics and community pharmacy, as well as community teams based at the hospital.

If the bid is successful, the GP practices and Southern Health would establish the centre as a community interest company.

The six GP practices are:

  • The Arnewood Practice, New Milton;
  • New Milton Health Centre, New Milton;
  • The Barton Webb-Peploe Partnership, Barton on Sea;
  • Wisteria and Milford Surgeries, Lymington;
  • Chawton House Surgery, Lymington; and
  • Lyndhurst Surgery, Lyndhurst.

Andy Lopez, project lead and practice manager of Cornerways Medical Centre – which would be able to refer patients to the centre – said: “We looked at this idea as a different model of primary care to try and cut out access issues and duplication of work.

“In the past general practice has discussed [how to find] a better way of providing services to the patient population. For example, do you use one practice for urgent on the day stuff, and another is used for long term conditions?”

He added that Lymington New Forest Hospital is currently “underused”.

“Through discussion and collaboration with Southern Health, the idea of using the hospital as a primary care access centre came forward,” Mr Lopez said.

The service would initially operate for 12 months, during which key performance metrics such as reductions in emergency admissions and out of hours calls will be measured.

Mr Lopez said: “We will be aiming to find a 13 per cent reduction in non-elective activity, a 4 per cent reduction in accident and emergency admissions and an 80 per cent fall in out of hours primary care centre visits.”  

All of the GP practices involved in referring patients to the centre would also be linked through a shared telephony system.

Winners in the second wave of prime minister’s challenge fund, worth a total £100m, are due to be announced later this month.