Helping to ease pressure in the NHS through collaborative working

Going back as far as 1948 there has been a common misconception within the general public regarding GP surgeries and their funding. Unbeknownst to many; GP Surgeries are indeed private businesses that receive a variety of funding from the NHS. Although GPs are self-employed, the NHS do pay them to ensure they can cover fixed in-house costs, employ staff and pay themselves a salary for providing healthcare to  for patients.

Whilst continued distrust surrounding part privatisation of the NHS is an ever present concern, innovative affiliations seen between the private and public sector in this industry are nothing new and can be of great benefit to the public by getting best value for money services.

As the NHS continues to struggle with reduced investment, it has had to evolve by exploring partnerships between public and private sector companies. What better way to do this than to base it upon the model that has been working since the inception of General practice as we know it within the NHS. Ashburton Prescribing was and continues to have one primary mission and that is, to continue to improve the quality and consistency of care to patients, in a timely safe and cost effective way. It is this ethos that Ashburton believes is the key to their continued growth through sustainable NHS contracts.

The company was born in May 2013; over the past five years Ashburton has grown in both Pharmacist numbers and practices to which they deliver services across the North West.

This growth has seen recognition from the business world with the company being shortlisted last year in the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and this year for the E3 Business Awards, the final event for the latter being held on July 12th of this year.

With over 45 years of Pharmacist experience in the NHS; in both primary and secondary care, the two Directors Sue Read and Lynne Garforth see Ashburton as being at the forefront of the collaboration process which aims to continue to see an improvement in patient care.

A recent government funded study found that 92% of family doctors felt that increasing workloads and paperwork were among their main sources of stress. The study, reported on by The Guardian, found that 39% of GP’s will be looking to leave the sector over the next 5 years;

“Pressures in general practice have reached an all-time high. Our workload has escalated by at least 16% over the last seven years, but the share of the NHS budget that general practice receives is less than it was a decade ago. GP numbers are actually falling, and many hard-working GP’s are simply burnt-out and exhausted”, explained Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GP’s.

One of Ashburton’s stated objectives is to ease as much of the pressure from GP’s as possible by removing time consuming tasks currently undertaken by GP’s that can, and in some cases, are best done by pharmacists. Not only do pharmacists increase capacity in primary care they also offer a different approach to prescribing and medicines optimisation and are an invaluable resource to the practice.

The British Medical Association’s GP’s committee is pushing for the introduction of workload limits for GP’s to prevent them from becoming overloaded and a hospital-style “black alert” system when practices are overwhelmed. Sue Read, Director at Ashburton Prescribing, has some thoughts on these developments and how Ashburton can be of assistance

“Our business is set up with one key mission in mind and that is simply to provide the best care possible to patients. We take pressure and time constraints from GPs, we provide expert medicines knowledge and expertise to the practice team and to patients.

Many more surgeries are ‘warming’ to our business plan and the feedback we have received is tremendous. Our company is growing significantly and we are always looking for professional and experienced pharmacists to join us on our journey.

Unsustainable pressure is causing a well renowned NHS a problem in practice and we are here to help. GPs comment to us that, the addition of an Ashburton pharmacist to the practice team is “a good value for money option.” It not only improves the use of medicines in the practice, it also eases the pressure on GPs and frees up appointments for patients.

With development comes change, the need to work in partnership with the NHS is now coming to the fore. We must act quickly to keep and build on the excellent work that has gone on in primary care for many years. We believe the future is the continued collaboration between private and public companies in the healthcare sector.”

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