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On Friday 1st July 2022 clinical commissioning groups (CCG's) across the country were closed and were replaced by new NHS organisations known as Integrated Care Boards.

Therefore, NHS East Lancashire CCG no longer exists and has been replaced (along with the othe seven CCGs in Lancashire and South Cumbria) by the new NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB)

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Health Education Funding to boost GP practices in Pennine Lancashire

PL Enhanced Training Practice2

Back: Neil Sinclair, Physician Associate, Rebecca Hibbins, Student Nurse Front: Ann Neville, Practice Manager Darwen Health Care, Pauline Aspinall, Practice Manager Irwell Medical Centre

Irwell Medical Practice in Bacup and Darwen Healthcare in Darwen were successful in their expression of interest to lead and develop the Pennine Lancashire Enhanced Training Practice Scheme as from 01 September 2018.

The main objectives of the scheme are to promote and increase the number of Nurse Mentors and Sign off Mentors, increase the number of Student Nurse Placements in General Practice which will hopefully assist with the succession planning of Practice Nurses approaching retirement within Pennine Lancashire. The scheme will also promote the placement of Physician Associates within General Practice.

The two practices will work with Health Education England, neighbouring Enhanced Training Practices and GP practices in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire promoting General Practice opportunities. Funding is available to support Nurses who wish to complete Mentorship Training and backfill will be provided for the nurses to complete the required time away from practice to complete the training. This funding will enable the two practices to support colleagues in GP practices across the area to expand the number of Student Nurse Placements within practices. In the long term view the scheme is an exciting opportunity for GP practices to attract healthcare students to the area and consider General Practice as a career option.

GP practices in Pennine Lancashire experience exceptionally high demand and see patients with increasingly complex health needs and conditions. GPs themselves are under considerable pressure daily. More GPs are looking to retire or leave the profession, and attracting and retaining new GPs to Pennine Lancashire, as elsewhere in the country, has been a challenge.

The Enhanced Training Practice is an innovative response to these challenges. This may provide extra capacity and reduce pressure on existing staff. Research has shown that when GP and healthcare students have placements and work experience in an area, they are more likely to stay in that area. Locally, GP practices which have hosted medical students have found that many have stayed in the area to practice once qualified as GPs and it is why training practices often use the term “Grow your own” to describe this.

One of the initiatives is to promote Physician Associate placements within practices in Pennine Lancashire. Physician Associates are trained practitioners who can work alongside GPs to provide medical care as an integral part of a multidisciplinary team. They have a medical supervisor but can work autonomously with support. Physician Associates are medically trained, and therefore can assess, manage and treat patients of all ages with a variety of conditions. They can carry out physical examinations; undertake residential, nursing and home visits as well as reviewing, analysing and acting on diagnostic test results

Practice Managers Ann Neville and Pauline Aspinall were behind the successful funding bid, and are keen for practices to be a part of this exciting opportunity.

Ann Neville, Practice Manager at Darwen Health Care, said:

“This is an exciting project because it gives us the opportunity to help medical, nursing and other health students within their placements and allow them to see the exciting opportunities that a career within General Practice can bring.

"We recruited a Physician Associate, Neil Sinclair who has been with the practice now for 6 months. It is clear that Neil has really helped with patient care and supported our GPs with the increased demand that we experience as a practice. I am hopeful that the Physician Associate role will become tried and tested within Pennine Lancashire and will benefit GPs, staff and patients alike.

"Hosting a Year 3 Nurse Student, Jenny Mather, has allowed us the opportunity to recruit Jenny as a newly qualified nurse from September 18” which will assist with our succession planning and allow Jenny to take the first step in a career with us in general practice”.

Pauline Aspinall, Practice Manager at Irwell Medical Centre, said:

“By working together we can help to improve the opportunities for learning and training that medical and nursing students need. At the same time we hope to boost GP practices with much needed additional capacity to help manage the workload and by doing so hopefully we can contribute to improved patient care, and a better working environment for GPs and practice staff.

"We know that students who study and have work placements in the area, are more likely to stay in the area. Ideally we want to put East Lancashire on the map for future students to come and learn but also to stay and live here. The more trained and experienced staff we have the better it will be for patients and GP practices alike.”