The head of general practice development at the NHS has good things to say about the integrated care offered at Counties Manukau Health.
Dr Robert Varnam met with Ko Awatea director Professor Jonathon Gray, primary health and primary care community services director Benedict Hefford, Healthy Together 2020 director David Lenihan and respiratory consult Professor Harry Rea recently to share ideas and best practice in primary care across New Zealand and the UK.
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Dr Varnam, who was in New Zealand to address the annual Royal New Zealand College of GPs (RNZCGP) conference, describes aspects of care here as amazing.
“I think what stands out about it is firstly, you’ve seen the whole picture and you’re doing something about every part of the picture and secondly, [the methods you are using] have clearly engaged not just the very enthusiastic and not just the nursing workforce,” Dr Varnam says. “In England most people have got the same big picture but we are only working on isolated bits of it.”
He says there is no real Ko Awatea equivalent in the UK.
“You hardly ever find, in the UK, the very, very close relationship between the running of day to day care, and learning and improvement [apparent in Ko Awatea]. So this is really quite different to anything we have,” he says.
A recent merge of several improvement groups into an organisation called NHS IQ failed, and was closed, because it wasn not considered sufficiently patient focused, Dr Varnam says.
“What we now have is a new interest in more locally identifiable organisations to help with improvement and capability which is getting closer to what you do.”
Dr Varnam addressed the RNZCGP on how the NHS is addressing the changing role of the general practitioners (GPs) towards greater collaboration with other services, and a greater willingness to put the patient at the centre of their own care. It has not been an easy process, and there exists some resistance among GPs reluctant to let go of more traditional doctor-patient relationships, but change is happening, he says.