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Introduction to 7 Partnership working

Up to 7. Partnership working
June 15. 2016
Robert Varnam

What it is this?

This is about creating partnershps and collaborations with other practices and other providers in the local health and social care system. This offers benefits in terms of improved organisational resilience and efficiency, and is essential for implementing many recent innovations in access and enhanced longterm conditions care.

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Benefits for patients

  • Access to expanded range of services wrapped around the patient in the community. 
  • Reduces delays introduced by referrals to different providers.

Benefits for practice

  • Frees GP time, makes best use of the specific expertise of staff in the practice. 
  • Creates economies of scale and opportunities for new services and organisational models.


7.1 The productive federation

A growing number of practices are entering into collaborative arrangements with others. These collaborations take a variety of forms and legal underpinnings, ranging from loose networks to tightly integrated federations. Historically, much of the drive behind collaboration has been a desire to win contracts for services such as minor surgery, community dermatology or outpatient monitoring. Some collaborations were originally established with a less clearly defined purpose of protecting practices from commercial competition or difficult financial circumstances. These networks and federations do not necessarily provide a platform for service provision at scale or for supporting practices to improve quality or innovate in core services. With commissioners increasingly looking to procure innovative at-scale primary care from GP federations, many are rethinking their purpose, and developing more comprehensive approaches to their functions, processes and capabilities.

7.2 Specialists

Developing closer and more seamless collaboration with specialist colleagues. This may involve new protocols and processes for sharing care, clarifying responsibilities for different parts of the patient journey and reducing gaps and duplication. Direct access to advice is increasingly being provided, to reduce the need for some patients to be referred out of primary care. Specialists may also be brought into more community-facing roles, providing training, advice and care outside hospital. These measures have clear benefits for patients as well as general practices.

7.3 Community pharmacy

Community pharmacies provide a wide range of expert advice about episodic and ongoing needs. A growing number of GP practices are building closer collaboration with their community pharmacies, particularly in the areas of minor illness and medication reviews.

7.4 Community services

Form new collaborative relationships with community service providers. This offers the potential to provide more joined-up care for patients, especially those with longterm conditions, where fragmentation of services is common and impacts on the safety, effectiveness, efficiency and experience of care.

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