Care Navigators to be introduced as part of improvements for GP practice

Dr Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of the Suffolk GP Federation. Picture: Anglia Pictur

Dr Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of the Suffolk GP Federation. Picture: Anglia Picture - Credit: Ashley Pickering/Anglia Picture

Specially trained Care Navigators are set to be introduced to a Lowestoft surgery to help ease the pressure of work on GPs.

Important operational changes will be made at the Kirkley Mill Surgery in the New Year as part of a bid to ensure quality care and retain doctors.

The improvements will be made from January 2 2019, as the surgery is changing the way it operates. Some of its staff have been trained as Care Navigators so they can direct patients to the most appropriate clinician to meet their needs.

Suffolk GP Federation, which took on the running of the practice last year, said the new way of working will allow them to continue to provide 'safe, appropriate and sustainable' care.

If patients don't see a GP, they could be directed to a nurse practitioner, practice nurse or pharmacist – all of whom are supervised by a doctor.

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Dr Paul Driscoll, medical director and chairman of the Suffolk GP Federation, said: 'The shortage of GPs in Suffolk has been well documented, and recruitment has been particularly difficult in Lowestoft.

'We currently have one-and-a-half full-time permanent GPs but are unlikely to recruit additional permanent doctors.

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'As a result, it's important that we maintain a manageable workload for our clinicians, otherwise they will become ill and leave, making the situation worse.

'If we are to continue to provide safe, appropriate and sustainable care, then we must change the way the practice operates.'

When all appointments have been allocated for the day patients will be redirected to self-care or asked to call the next day.

Dr Driscoll added: 'Care Navigators are now common in many GP practices across the UK. They treat a patient's call with the same level of confidentiality as a clinician and ensure patients are always seen by the right healthcare professional.

'These clinicians have specialist knowledge on a range of conditions, which helps to free up doctors' time for the more complex cases and allows patients to be seen quicker.'

Visit the practice website for further details via

The changes

Appointments will only be available on the day a patient contacts the practice, other than those for a nurse or healthcare-assistant clinics.

Appointments will be released at 8am and 1pm

Patients will be offered two alternative appointment times to choose from

Appointments will be prioritised for patients who have been determined as clinically urgent.

When no appointments are available, patients will be directed to alternative sources such NHS 111 or the NHS Choices website, or asked to phone back the next day

Patients who believe they need a home visit are asked to request this before 10am

Some services such as routine ear syringing will no longer be available.

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