A significant transformation to the provision of primary care is being implemented in Northern Ireland with multi-disciplinary teams working in GP practices.
In May 2018, the Department of Health announced Multi -Disciplinary Teams in Primary Care (MDT’s) initiative as part of a £15m transformation fund allocation to primary care. The MDT’s will give life to the key recommendations from ‘Delivering Together - Health and Wellbeing 2026’.
The Western Health & Social Care Trust, in partnership with the Derry Federation of GP Practices, and the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust, in partnership with Down GP Federation, are the first to pilot the implementation of MDT’s in Northern Ireland.
MDT’S are an exciting new way of working, with nurses, health visitors, social workers, mental health workers and physiotherapists , all working in partnership in GP practices within the pilot areas.
The teams will be established in 2019 and will contribute to reduced waiting times for patients accessing GP services and ensure early access to specialist appropriate care. They will work closely with local community and voluntary organisations to ensure the services provided by the team are fully integrated and complement the care provided by them.
MDT’s are an excellent example of health and social care transformation, helping provide care closer to people’s homes and improving access times to a range of services. Evidence suggests this approach will allow patient issues to be resolved more quickly, by reducing the need for referrals and appointments elsewhere. The MDTs will support GP services to identify opportunities for early intervention and assist patients in managing long-term conditions and dealing with lifestyle issues which can impact on their health.
HSC Trusts are working with GP Federations to recruit to these new roles, with the new services expected to become available in the coming months in Derry/Londonderry and Down. Given the focus and commitment to this, it is expected that in the region of 200 posts (the majority of which are permanent and weekday) will be created across both areas.
According to the Permanent Secretary, Department of Health, Mr. Richard Pengelly:
“This is a very important step forward in the transformation journey. I look forward to MDTs being extended to other GP Federations in the years ahead.
By bringing in new professional roles to work alongside and support GPs and nurses, we can really improve care in communities and neighbourhoods.
This will help us move to a system focused on physical, mental and social wellbeing rather than just managing ill-health - with a greater focus placed on prevention and early intervention.”
Next phase –Belfast
The West Belfast GP Federation area serves in the region of 92,000 patients. Recruitment has commenced for nine practice based first contact physiotherapists, a service manager and a project manager. The first contact physiotherapists will be predominantly based in GP practices in west Belfast and will be responsible for providing a high standard of specialist assessment, diagnosis and treatment of Musculoskeletal patients.