Sussex Primary Care - one year on
10 June 2020

Sussex Primary Care - one year on

A unique partnership between GPs and NHS community services in Sussex celebrates its first birthday this month.

Sussex Primary Care (SPC) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) and was set up to support GP practices looking for a different way of working.

Sussex Primary Care now runs two GP surgeries in Hove and Haywards Heath, with several more practices interested in joining. This means that though Sussex Primary Care, SCFT can begin the process of working more closely with surgeries, providing a more joined up and seamless approach to care for patients.

SCFT is the main provider of NHS community healthcare across Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, High Weald Lewes Havens and West Sussex and is one of the first community foundation trusts to be working with primary care in this way in the country.

Traditionally GP practices are run as private businesses with GPs as partners. Increasing demand over the last few years has seen many surgeries struggle to recruit and retain doctors and staff and some have been forced to close.

Sussex Primary Care worked with Dolphins Practice in Haywards Heath to take over the management and provide GPs with additional support last June. Wish Park Surgery in Hove joined in December 2019.

The new way of working means that GPs are able to call on the support of their local NHS and have a direct link with community services, which benefit patients who often need care from both their GP and SCFT.

Jane Mules, Managing Director for Sussex Primary Care, said: “By taking on the business elements of running a GP contract and practice, Sussex Primary Care allows practices to focus more on the care they provide for their patients and career development opportunities for their staff.

“It has been an exciting first year for Sussex Primary Care, as well as the Dolphins and Wish Park.”

Sid Harrison, GP at Dolphins Practice, said: “What a difference a year makes.

“Coming up to the anniversary of the merger of Dolphins Practice with Sussex Primary Care has provided a perfect opportunity to reflect on how things have changed for us in the past year. As one of the previous partners, I can say that the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I feel more in control of my workload than I did before, I have more time to spend on my clinical priorities and thankfully spend less on the day to day running of the practice. The SPC team have been proactive in trying to create a great working environment for the staff and to retain the friendliness that so characterises our practice. Our challenges in recruiting have been hugely helped by creating a more diverse team that encourages and enables flexible working. We have been incredibly lucky with the new additions to our team and have developed a stronger bond amongst ourselves as a result. There is no us and them division and this has made things very much less stressful than it could feel in the past. SPC has invested in making General Practice a force for the future, constantly looking to find better ways of managing problems that historically had become entrenched across the primary care setting. It has sought to improve our individual skills as well as ensuring that the right person is doing the right job. After only a year I am hugely thankful for their help and reassuring support and as a result feel better able to continue in my love of being a GP without feeling of fear or exhaustion. I look forward to what the next years hold.”

Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am delighted that Dolphins and Wish Park decided to work more closely with us through Sussex Primary Care. The last few weeks have been particularly challenging for all parts of the NHS as we respond to coronavirus and I think the support Sussex Primary Care has been able to provide to Dolphins and Wish Park as an extension of what the Trust has provided to its own staff and communities has been particularly beneficial and shows the true benefits of this new way of working.” 

For more information about Sussex Primary Care visit www.sussexprimarycare.co.uk.