Four ‘Hubs’ providing enhanced GP and specialist services are being developed in Cwm Taf to intervene earlier when people are ill and prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital.
The Hubs which will be based across Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil are a key plank of Cwm Taf’s three year Primary and Community Delivery Plan, which was approved earlier today.
The plan also provides improved career opportunities and an innovative approach to healthcare which are aimed at recruiting more GPs and health professionals to work in the south Wales Valleys. A recruitment film has also been produced to accompany the Plan which is aimed at medical students considering a career as a GP or primary care health professional.
Over the next three years more care across Wales will be resourced and provided in local communities rather than in hospitals with a greater focus on prevention and early intervention in treating chronic illnesses.
‘Cluster Hubs’ are extended GP centres that will provide more services outside of a hospital setting by a wider healthcare team including district nurses, therapists and community pharmacists.
The first one is already well developed at Keir Hardie University Health Park in Merthyr Tydfil – the first one of its kind in Wales providing health and social care under one roof.
Over the next three years the Primary Care Support Unit which provides workforce support for GP practices will be expanded to develop new roles in community nursing, pharmacy and therapies as well as paramedic practitioners, clinical support workers and salaried GPs.
An Academic Primary Care Unit will also be developed to enhance research, development and teaching. This will include appointing an academic chair and providing bespoke training for doctors and other allied health professionals wanting career opportunities across community and hospital based medicine. This provides an opportunity to undertake research into the key issues impacting on the health and wellbeing of our local population.”
John Palmer, Director of Primary Care, Community and Mental Health at Cwm Taf University Health Board said: “To deal with the increase in chronic illness and an ageing population, over the next 3 years more resources will be transferred out of hospital based care to support more people in their local communities. GPs and the primary care team will be vital to achieving this.
“We are developing new systems of integrated community working that deliver greater prevention, ensure early intervention and avoid unnecessary hospital admission. The challenges we face are significant but this is an exciting time to work in primary care in the Valleys and our strategy offers real opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives.”
The Cardiovascular Risk Reduction programme which was piloted in Cwm Taf uses computer software to identify patients at risk of heart disease. The programme which trains healthcare assistants in GP Practices to identify and motivate patients have seen more than 500 people in the first six months and the programme is now being rolled out across Cwm Taf.
Sarah Rastall from Aberfan was identified as high risk and invited to come to the surgery for a series of checks. She says the programme has saved her life. “I was invited to come into the practice for some tests and when I was told I had a heart age of 65 and I was 51 at the time it frightened the life out of me. It gave me the shock I needed to do something about it and within two days I gave up smoking. The team has been great – they were there for me.”