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Engagement invited on new draft primary care strategy launched in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West

Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) ICB is inviting the public to have their say on its draft Primary Care Strategy, which has the aim of transforming general practice, community pharmacy, optometry and dentistry. The strategy tackles challenges facing primary care including high demand, reduced access to services, ageing populations, and workforce pressures.

The new strategy outlines three priorities to help deliver ambitions set out within the ICB’s Integrated Care Strategy and Five-Year Joint Forward Plan, both committed to integrating primary care with community services ICB-wide, and to develop new ways of providing care for patients. The priorities are improving access so patients “get the right support first time”, developing “proactive and personalised care in the community setting” for those with complex health needs, and preventing ill health by “using and sharing data with our partners about the health needs of local communities”.

As part of plans to deliver on these priorities, the strategy sets out intentions to develop services across non-complex same day care through more effective triaging; integrated multi-disciplinary neighbourhood teams; and prevention “with an initial focus on cardiovascular disease”, tackling common causes of ongoing ill-health and deaths across the ICB leading to heart attack and strokes.

The strategy also refers to other areas in which the ICB plans to develop primary care, including promoting the wider use of the NHS app to view medical records, order repeat prescriptions, and manage appointments; providing more training to pharmacists to help them make decisions “without the need to involve a GP”; supporting national roll-out of the minor eye conditions service; and exploring the use of mobile dental units to help manage demand.

On the plans, Dr Abid Irfan, director of primary care at BOB ICB, said: “Our draft strategy outlines solutions to tackle the challenges we face in primary care, including increased demand and the need to improve access with limited resources to support us.

“Our vision is to transform primary care across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West by integrating these services and ensure they work more closely with our health and care partners across our communities to provide better patient care. To achieve this we have developed three priorities. To improve access to services so patients with non-emergency needs can get same day care; to ensure those with more complex needs get proactive, personalised care from a dedicated team in local communities; and to prevent people from becoming unwell and staying healthier for longer. In addition, we will need to make better use of digital tools and premises to allow us to work differently. And we need to have measures in place to recruit and retain a skilled workforce.”

The public are being invited to offer their feedback and views on the strategy via an online survey, which is open until 29 February 2024. There will also be a region-wide online webinar in February, which will allow members of the public to ask questions about the strategy, with details to be shared in the coming weeks.

In related news on primary care, we spoke to Sarah Andersen, GP at Herstmonceux Integrative Health Centre in East Sussex, at the end of last year. Sarah shared with us some of her recent insights and experiences on a range of digital health topics across primary care.

As we approached the end of 2023, we also took a look back on the year’s progress and achievements, by asking NHS professionals: reflecting on 2023, what digital projects and programmes are you most proud of?