Regional Programme —

Primary Care

The need for effective digital pathways in primary care has been brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A doctor conducts a video consultation with a patient on her computer

Optimising the use of online and video consultation 

Optimising the use of prescribing tools 

Supporting equality of access across the population 


Detailed Programme Information

Digital technology was implemented at speed and scale across general practice to reduce physical contact while maintaining interactions between patients and clinicians.

Initially, support was offered to general practices across the region to integrate online and video consultation technologies into their operational systems.

Subsequently, we have supported practices to optimise their use of digital care pathways, whilst also supporting equity of access across our South West population. This involves assessing how digital resources and systems are being used, in order to identify approaches that we can spread across our practice community.

Impact includes:

  • 75% of practices in the South West now utilise online consultation (compared to 50% in March 2020).
  • Our work has contributed to a 50% increase in patient throughput at some vaccination sites as part of wider support given to enable system improvements.
  • Over 100 representatives from primary care and 50 from community pharmacy throughout the South West and West of England, logged onto the live webinars.
Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD)

Early collaborative working with West of England AHSN led to delivery of webinars for primary care prescribers, to encourage uptake of eRD. These shared best practice, resources and system benefits of using eRD, as well as the obvious benefits involving social distancing and protection of patients who were shielding.

We have been working with Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and practices that are already utilising eRD but keen to extend their current service whilst driving efficiency gains for the primary care workforce.

Patient information videos

We are supporting the spread of a patient video library, developed by Devon-based enterprise, Health and Care Innovations (HCI), to enable Trusts to continue delivering patient care in challenging operating environments.

The series of 600 videos is the largest collection of videos in the health and care sector in the UK. The videos provide a practical and easy-to-digest digital alternative to written information and can be delivered remotely by NHS clinicians and accessed by patients and carers.

In July 2020 the library was made available to all health and care settings in England under a new contract with NHSX.

Children and Young People’s Mental Health Training videos for GPs

We worked with NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group to develop a series of training videos to provide tips, advice and guidance for GPs based in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and beyond. The ten videos were created prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re seeing that supporting children and young people’s mental health is more relevant now than ever.

Spread digital Academy (digital primary care)

In autumn 2020 we partnered with NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to run a virtual version of our popular Spread Academy focused on digital primary care.

The academy supported teams in primary care across Devon, Somerset, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to prepare their digital innovations, approaches or solutions for spread and scale, including the optimisation of online and video consultation tools rapidly deployed during COVID-19.

For more information, please contact our Programme Lead for digital-first pathways, Maja Jorgensen.

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