Where did it all begin?
In 2015, the south Somerset Symphony Programme was created through Yeovil Hospital and key healthcare organisations within south Somerset. The programme was given ‘vanguard status’(special project funding from NHS England) and tasked with creating innovative new ways of delivering high quality care to patients and in particular, strengthening and supporting primary care to support GPs and ease the pressure on the NHS as a whole.
Symphony Healthcare Services was developed as part of the Symphony Programme as a way of offering further support to GP Practices and ensuring that Primary Care had the capacity to reduce activity on hospital services.
One of the key targets of the Symphony Programme was to develop different types of healthcare services; known as ‘new models of care’. This new model developed a ‘Complex Care service’, for the top 4% of patients with the most complex long-term healthcare conditions and an ‘Enhanced Primary Care service’ that has seen the Health Coach role introduced into 17 GP practices across south Somerset.
Introducing Symphony Healthcare Services (SHS)
In April 2016, Symphony Healthcare Services was created after three GP practices approached Yeovil Hospital directly for help. Ilchester Surgery, Yeovil Health Centre and Buttercross Health Centre in Somerton were the first practices to integrate with SHS.
Like many GP practices locally and nationally, these practices had been struggling to manage the operational and financial pressures on the surgery; with difficulties in recruiting permanent GPs, rising costs, growing patient numbers and demand, along with increasingly complex healthcare needs.
By joining together we aim to help practices to meet the current and future challenges of providing a sustainable, high quality healthcare service for our patients.
Is it private healthcare?
No, it is an NHS healthcare organisation. SHS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Yeovil Hospital that operates as an ‘arm’s length’ General Practice company.
The healthcare services that we provide our patients are funded by the NHS through the same contracts as any other GP practice. We work very closely with NHS England, the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Local Medical Committee (LMC) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to ensure that the care we provide meets the high standards set.
Why do GP Practices choose to join SHS?
SHS is a large, NHS owned primary care operating company, looking after around 60,000 patients across eight practices. GP Practices choose to join SHS for different reasons; some smaller GP practices are struggling with GP recruitment and increasingly complex healthcare needs, whilst other larger practices are looking to the future and the opportunity to develop and introduce new innovative ways of delivering healthcare services, whilst staying within the NHS.
By becoming part of a larger network of practices, a central support team is able to support practices with back office roles such as HR, IT and Finance, enabling GPs and healthcare teams to focus on patient care and balance work-loads.
Each practice has a GP Clinical Lead who works with their medical colleagues across SHS to look at ways of introducing new roles and systems to improve efficiencies and the choice of services for patients.
Why is there so much pressure on GP practices?
Across the country it is becoming harder to recruit new GPs and many existing GPs and GP partners are retiring, or looking to work in a less pressured environment. In Somerset, an ageing demographic has also created an additional strain on primary care, with the average number of appointments per patient, per year increasing as we get older.
In addition the numbers of patients with increasingly complex long-term health conditions is rising, with more patients requiring frequent, specialist care.
Within SHS we are working very hard to introduce and develop extended specialist healthcare teams who can support patients and GPs. As well as caring for our patients with the most serious health conditions, we are also focusing on prevention – to enable everyone to live as long a healthy life at home as is possible and avoid unnecessary admission to hospital
As patient demand continues to grow across the healthcare sector it is more important than ever, that we are able to adapt and develop our services to help sustain primary care across our local communities.
Within SHS, we are absolutely committed to strengthening and supporting primary care across our current and future practices and finding new ways of caring for our patient’s needs both today and in to the future.
Meet our operational committee
See below our current SHS practices.