NHS Greater Manchester (GM) has launched a five-year plan designed to improve access to primary care services, with digital highlighted as an enabler with roles across all themes set out in the blueprint and key aims around reducing variation in the deployment of digital tools, improving inclusion, training the workforce, and putting in place appropriate hardware/software and infrastructure.
Opening a specific chapter dedicated to digital plans, the document states: “Digital tools when deployed effectively will make primary care work better for users and the workforce, enabling more efficient and effective care that is experienced positively by all.”
Deliverables are included in the plan such as developing the GM Care Record to be “functioning as a live and dynamic tool” with data integration across all primary care, secondary care and community providers; making electronic prescribing available to all prescribers; and fully implementing cloud-based telephony across general practice. Dental practices, optometry services and pharmacies across GM are to gain access to the GM Care Record by 2026; paper GP ‘Lloyd George’ records are to be digitised by 2029; and the plan also notes the intention to facilitate enhanced digital access to general practice through the roll-out of the NHS App and enhanced telephony support.
In addition, the plan highlights how the ICS will align with GM Combined Authority, with a shared pledge to make the region “a 100 percent digitally enabled city region, including improvement of GM-wide internet connectivity and data availability”.
The plan notes that there are currently “plentiful” digital tools available to primary care, but a collaborative approach will be required as a Greater Manchester Primary Care System to ensure a minimum level of capability across the region, and to allow for nuances in local need.
Rob Bellingham, director of primary care at NHS Greater Manchester, comments: “Most people use the NHS through primary care services. Making sure that people can see or speak to GPs, dentists, pharmacists, and optometrists in a timely and easy way is a top priority for us. Our primary care blueprint will help us respond to both a growing and ageing population and an increase in demand for our care… This plan aims to address some of the immediate pressures facing our workforce and make primary care a more attractive place to work.”
In March, we covered the launch of a multi-million pound health innovation accelerator, which aims to rapidly improve the treatment and diagnosis of diseases across the 2.8m GM population.
On primary care access, earlier this month we looked at how a digital system is being used at a practice in Kingston to triage patients and support patients in accessing primary care services.