St Austell and east Cornwall GP surgeries scoop national awards

General practice in Cornwall is pioneering the way in which services will be organised in the future and has been nationally recognised at an awards ceremony.

The recognition demonstrates that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is leading the way in innovative primary care.

St Austell Health Care GP practice and East Cornwall Primary Care Network (a group of nine practices) scooped top awards in recognition for their innovative approach to working collaboratively both as practices as well as with the acute hospitals, community and voluntary sector.

Both areas have worked relentlessly to not only improve people’s experience of visiting their GP surgery but to support the sustainability of general practice and bring it into the 21st century.

St Austell Health Care was named National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) Primary Care Home of the Year after being hailed a “beacon site” as a forerunner to the national Primary Care Network programme.

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Dr Stewart Smith, GP partner at St Austell Health Care, social prescribing facilitator Hayley Burgoyne, Dr James McClure, also GP partner at St Austell Health Care, and Bridget Sampson, managing partner/executive partner. 

Bridget Sampson, St Austell Health Care’s managing partner/executive partner, was awarded highly commended in the category of Primary Care Manager of the Year.

Following last year’s successful win by Neil Parsons, strategic manager at Kernow Health East Ltd, at the NAPC awards, East Cornwall walked away with Primary Care Network of the Year at the celebration.

Dr Penny Atkinson, GP partner at Rosedean House Surgery in Liskeard, was also named runner up in the Clinician of the Year award.

Dr Minesh Patel, NAPC’s chair, said: "Cornwall swept the board this year. The entries from both St Austell Healthcare and East Cornwall were of an incredibly high standard - both inspirational, embracing NAPC's primary care home model and demonstrating their passion and commitment to transform care for their patients."

Jackie Pendleton, NHS Kernow chief officer, said: “It's fantastic to hear about so many individuals and teams being nominated for and winning national awards.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly is a great place to work and these awards illustrate that we have great clinical leaders and teams in our communities who are delivering real improvements for local people.”

Back in 2015, GP services in St Austell were on the brink of collapse when one practice handed back its contract leaving 10,000 patients without a GP. Following the merger of the remaining three practices and incorporation of the patients from the failed practice, St Austell Healthcare was formed. 

St Austell Health Care was one of the NAPC Primary Care Home rapid test sites, a programme aimed at strengthening primary care services and among its many initiatives, the practice established prescribing and has helped design a social prescribing model for the rest of the county. The award also recognised the practice’s innovation in primary care.

Stewart Smith, GP partner, said: “It’s fantastic to receive this recognition after five years of hard work in what has been quite a challenging journey but most of all its affirmation for our 110 staff for all of their dedication and commitment.

“The progress we have made comes from working closely with colleagues across different organisations not just the NHS but the voluntary sector and our excellent Patient Participation Group.”

James McClure, also a GP partner, said: “The award hopefully gives us a foundation to make further improvements. We’re optimistic for the future and there is a lot more we can do to improve primary care and ensure people in St Austell receive care closer to home.”

Bridget Sampson, managing partner of the practice which serves 31,500 residents, was thrilled to have been highly commended adding: “I am honoured and humbled to have been nominated.”

Meanwhile Penny Atkinson, GP partner at Rosedean House Surgery in Liskeard, paid tribute to last year’s National Association of Primary Care awards winner, health manager Neil Parsons, and Dr Rehan Symonds for all their hard work and innovation which resulted in East Cornwall setting up a Primary Care Network in a very short time span.

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Dr Penelope Atkinson, GP partner at Rosedean House Surgery in Liskeard, with the team celebrating their award.

Dr Atkinson said: “Neil and Rehan put in all the groundwork which we have been able to build upon. We decided to form one PCN with three neighbourhoods to build on the Primary Care Home approach of tightly-knit teams formed around natural communities of about 30,000 to 35,0000. We have been able to see the benefits of this size of neighbourhoods while continuing to offer bespoke services to patients. The CCG has been very supportive in helping us move towards a PCN.”

Dr Atkinson added it was a complete surprise to be nominated and shortlisted for the Clinician of the Year award.

“I am very grateful and touched to the people who nominated me but it’s definitely not a one person show and there are lots of GPs doing the same job as me if not better. What our PCN award reflects is the dedication and hard work of colleagues across East Cornwall."

Andrew Abbott, NHS Kernow director of primary care, thanked the GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, administration teams and volunteers who work together to make general practice services so well regarded. 

He said: "The innovation and commitment to service improvement these awards demonstrate, is why we believe general practice, and the new primary care networks they have formed, will be the foundations for our integrated health and care system.”

The ceremony was held in Birmingham last week.