Links Project Report:developing the connections between general practices and their communities
The Links Project was established between October 2010 and May 2011. Staff in ten Scottish General Practices explored connections with their communities. Six of the practices were in areas of deprivation in Glasgow and four in different areas of Fife.
1. Share lessons from the Links Project with other practices and appropriate local and national organisations through meetings, conferences and wide dissemination of final report
2. Implement ALISS project in primary care to improve access to online local information
3. General Practitioner to be seconded to Self Management Programme to help develop themes and recommendations of Links Report
4. Consider sustainable model for maintaining connections to community, eg a linkworker, with librarianship and connecting role, to develop and facilitate links
5. Extend approach to examining links between primary and secondary care and community care
6. Relevant professional organisations to consider incorporating knowledge partnership in primary care professional training and development
7. NHS Education Scotland to give consideration to developing "community resources work" as part of "working with others" for GP registrars / other NHS staff
8. Identify existing and emerging levers to encourage connecting function of General Practice (such as "community orientation" competency in Registrar training and QPA)
9. Data gathering tools developed in Links Project to be adapted for re-use as evidence for GP appraisal and revalidation: under sections 'Working with Colleagues' and 'Relationships with Patients'
10. Encourage events in protected learning time, such as visits to local resources (this could be relatively low cost and shared between practices
11. Consider use of service improvement techniques to release time for signposting
Suggestions for further research:
1. Does signposting to local resources by GP practices lead to improved self management
2. Establish steps involved in signposting and level of attrition between each step
3. Governance guide to signposting for levels of staff
4. Does signposting to local resources increase the demand on practices (e.g. for sick lines, housing letters, letters of support and advocacy)
5. Patient's view of being signposted
6. Mechanisms for feedback to practices on patient progress from community services
7. Consideration of extra resource required (time, administrative costs, consumables, hardware) if staff extend their social marketing role
8. Referral rate from various groups to local resources (some organisations felt there was an under referral from general practice)
9. Produce guidance for organisations on presenting information for general practice.
10. Service improvement initiatives should consider collaboration with innovation and design units in Scottish Art Colleges.
Funding has been agreed for Phase 2 of the Links Project in 2012 - 2013, which will be taken forward in a partnership between RCGP and LTCAS. Some of the above suggestions may be addressed in this new Phase.
Email: Tim Warren
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