News, Primary Care

Fuller Stocktake: Time for a radical overhaul of primary care

Fuller Stocktake primary care

The Next steps for integrating primary care: Fuller stocktake report was published yesterday, outlining a vision for transforming primary care led by integrated neighbourhood teams.

The review was carried out by Dr Claire Fuller, CEO (Designate) of Surrey Heartlands ICS, commissioned by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

With weeks to go until integrated care systems (ICS) are granted statutory footing, the report emphasises this opportunity to radically overhaul the way health and social care services are designed are delivered.

According to Dr Fuller, ‘Primary care must be at the heart of each of our new systems – all of which face different challenges and will require the freedom and support to find different solutions.’

Support, enablement and respect are three key themes of the reviews findings. The report states that these sentiments are important to set the right tone and accelerate the change that needs to be delivered in primary care.

To improve access, experience and outcomes in primary care across all communities, the report outlines three key offers:

  • Streamlining access to care and advice for people who get ill but only use health services infrequently: providing them with much more choice about how they access care and ensuring care is always available in their community when they need it
  • Providing more proactive, personalised care with support from a multidisciplinary team of professionals to people with more complex needs, including, but not limited to, those with multiple long-term conditions
  • Helping people to stay well for longer as part of a more ambitious and joined-up approach to prevention.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This review must be a watershed moment for establishing primary care as an integral part of local systems, working across boundaries to deliver population-based care, and a demonstration of the benefits of the integration agenda.

“Our members – from primary care leaders through to ICSs – agree that investing in local relationships, developing and supporting frontline workers, and maintaining stability in general practice are the key components to achieving fully integrated primary care.

If we are to get serious about ramping up prevention, improving patient outcomes including by tackling health inequalities, and providing more personalised care, primary care’s deep-rooted connection to its local communities cannot be overstated.”

Responding to Dr Fuller’s stocktake, interim chief executive of NHS Providers Saffron Cordery said: “Trust leaders will welcome the findings of the Fuller ‘stocktake’ which sets out how primary care can work with partners across health and care to best meet the needs of their local communities.

“The welcome focus in the stocktake on creating neighbourhood health teams to offer continuity of care and support those with complex, ongoing health needs is essential and will help to tackle the health inequalities which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But with just over a month to go before integrated care systems become statutory bodies on July 1st, we now face the challenge of making this vision a reality.

“First and foremost, Dr Fuller’s stocktake underlines the need to tackle the serious challenges facing those who need to access same day, urgent care. This is no small undertaking and will require collaboration across mental health, community services, primary care and secondary care if it is to succeed.”