Across Wirral. Cheshire and Merseyside, there are now 1,150 more staff working in primary care than there were in 2019, helping to provide 20% more appointments than before the COVID-19 pandemic - including the same or greater numbers of face-to-face appointments.
The NHS is raising public awareness of the expanding range of support available to patients through their local GP practice health teams - including pharmacists, mental health practitioners, paramedics, physios, and social prescribers.
A new NHS England survey has found that many people in the north west don’t realise that roles such as mental health practitioners (66%), physiotherapists (71%) and social prescribers (89%) could also be available to them through their GP practice, as well as the more established roles such as GPs and practice nurses.
These additional roles are helping to boost and diversify the primary care workforce and ensure more patients get to see the right health professional to meet their needs, first time – which may not always be a GP.
These new roles are being introduced in response to record numbers of people seeking support from their family doctors - but with one in five GP appointments for non-medical reasons such as loneliness, the NHS wants to make sure that the right help is available for every patient.
Dr Fiona Lemmens, GP and Associate Medical Director for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said:
“We know that there’s a growing demand on GP care, and because of this many of our practices are extremely busy, and getting a GP appointment can sometimes be a challenge for patients.
“That’s why we are making lots of changes to how we work as primary care teams right across Cheshire and Merseyside, and we really want to start to communicate some of those improvements to the public.
“We want to reassure all patients that if they need to see a GP, they will always be offered an appointment. However, we also want to make people aware that there are lots of other health professionals working in or with their local practice team, who may be better placed to give them the right care and advice, and get them feeling well again faster.”