All posts by Neil Phillips

Future commissioning arrangements in your area – engagement report published

An engagement report has been published, following the recent engagement exercise to gather views on future commissioning arrangements in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West.

Views were invited on three proposals:

  • The delivery of more joined up and integrated health and care through three, locally focused Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) – alliances of NHS and Local Government organisations working together to plan and deliver care through a joint approach
  • The streamlining of commissioning arrangements through a single Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – a more strategic organisation to support ICPs and also commission services at scale as appropriate, such as NHS 111 or specialised services
  • Changes to the current CCG management arrangements to create a single Accountable Officer and Integrated Care Service (ICS) Executive Lead role, supported by a shared management team working across the Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs

Engagement activity was carried out at place level within Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) to gather the views on the proposals for the future of commissioning arrangements within BOB.

A BOB ICS survey on the future NHS commissioning arrangements was also made available through the platform Survey Monkey and was open for comment between the 10th of October 2019 and the 1st of December 2019.

Feedback was received through several channels including the survey, emails and letters from a numerous stakeholders including members of the public, NHS organisations, Health and Social Care Organisations and NHS Staff.

A wide range of responses and views were received. All feedback received will be taken into consideration as leaders within the BOB ICS develop proposals.

A full engagement report has been produced and is available on the BOB ICS website. Also available is the Board paper which is being considered by the three CCG Governing Bodies in January. The paper contains much of the content of the engagement report, includes summary of local engagement activities during the engagement period, a table setting out mitigating actions to address feedback relating to the proposed joint AO/ICS post, and the draft job description for this role.

In turn, the next steps regarding a possible single CCG will be informed by the views given to us – we expect Governing Bodies to consider any proposals about future CCG configuration in early 2020. Any options for future CCG configuration would be subject to consultation with CCG members later in 2020.


New guide to explain what people can expect when they visit a pharmacy

The General Pharmaceutical Council  (GPhC) has produced a new online guide for patients and the public which explains what they can expect when visiting a pharmacy.

The guide summarises the standards that registered pharmacies and pharmacy professionals have to meet, and what these standards mean for people using pharmacies.

It also explains that the GPhC inspects pharmacies to check if standards are being met and encourages people to visit the new pharmacy inspections publication site to find inspection reports.

The online guide is available to download from the GPhC website.

Pharmacy opening times for Christmas and New Year 2019

Please click here for details of which pharmacies will be open, and their operating hours, across the NHS Buckinghamshire CCG area during the Christmas and New Year period.

Where possible, please also plan ahead to make sure you get any repeat prescriptions ahead of the Christmas break.

Please note – pharmacy opening hours on Bank Holidays are voluntary and are, therefore, subject to change. There may be changes to normal pharmacy opening hours between Tuesday 24 December and Wednesday 1 January inclusive.

Patients are advised to check if pharmacies are open by telephone before making a journey.

Local pharmacy details can be found at under ‘More Services’.

If you are still not sure what health service option to use, and it is not an emergency, call NHS 111 for advice.

You can also click on the links to find details of pharmacy opening times for Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Proposals for Future NHS Commissioning Arrangements: Engagement Period Now Closed

The first stage of engagement on future NHS commissioning arrangements in Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire West has closed.

Views were invited on three proposals:

  • The delivery of more joined up and integrated health and care through three, locally focussed Integrated Care Partnerships (ICPs) – alliances of NHS and Local Government organisations working together to plan and deliver care through a joint approach
  • The streamlining of commissioning arrangements through a single Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – a more strategic organisation to support ICPs and also commission services at scale as appropriate, such as NHS 111 or specialised services
  • Changes to the current CCG management arrangements to create a single Accountable Officer and ICS Executive Lead role, supported by a shared management team working across the Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire West CCGs

The three CCGs within the BOB Integrated Care System ran an engagement exercise from 10 October to 1st December 2019 with a broad range of stakeholders, including patients and the public, to understand the extent of views on these proposed changes.

All feedback received will be fully considered by CCG and ICS leaders and will inform recommendations to CCG Governing Bodies about a single Accountable Officer/ICS Lead and associated supporting management structure. A full engagement report will also be produced and published in the New Year.

Next steps regarding any proposals about a single CCG will be considered by Governing Bodies in early 2020. Any proposals for future CCG configuration would be subject to consultation with CCG members later in 2020,  in line with NHS England/NHS Improvement guidance.

Working to keep Buckinghamshire safe and well this winter

Health and social care organisations in Buckinghamshire are working together this winter to help residents and their loved ones stay safe and well whatever the weather brings.

Winter is a high-pressure season for health and social care services, when lower temperatures and harsher weather can lead to increased demands on all services, especially GPs and Emergency Departments as flu season begins.

Director of Urgent and Emergency Care and Winter Director for the Buckinghamshire Integrated Care Partnership, Frances Woodroffe said: “We’ve been working hard across Buckinghamshire with hospitals, GPs, local authority, mental health, ambulance and social services as well as the voluntary sector to prepare for the extra challenge of winter.  By working jointly we can find new ways to improve services and ensure patients get the right care, in the right place, for their needs.

“There are many things being put in place to help achieve this, including support to help people remain well and independent at home, Children’s Community Hubs and community and ambulance support for falls and frailty to reduce the need for hospital admission. The flu vaccination is offered to health and social care employees so that the workforce stays healthy to keep all services running, and we also offer a flu service to care homes.

“Integrating our out of hours services means NHS111 can book appointments directly with GPs, who are available for longer, on weekday evenings and at weekends to give patients more access and better convenience.

“But it’s very important that people do not stay in hospital longer than necessary, so while hospitals will have more beds to help manage winter demands, we are making extra provision for care home beds as well as a range of community services to help people stay well and independent in their own homes. This is supported by adult social care working together with hospital discharge teams and is just another example of how integrated working is making a difference to patients and supporting our NHS.”

But what should people do if they feel unwell?

“We want all Buckinghamshire residents to know what to do if they need urgent medical help or are unsure,” says Dr Raj Bajwa, a local GP and Clinical Chair of Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group

“If you think you need medical help and it’s urgent, or you are unsure what to do, call 111 – the free NHS number which is available 24/7. Trained staff can connect you with a nurse, doctor, or mental health nurse. They can also give telephone advice, or book an appointment with a GP or the Wycombe Hospital Urgent Treatment Centre, if that is what is needed. It’s also available online:

“Why not try the app Ask NHS – it’s free to download to any mobile device and provides patients with a symptom checker, self-care advice and access to book the most appropriate GP appointment.

“Of course a high street pharmacist is a great first port of call when anyone feels under the weather, offering clinical advice and over the counter remedies as well as the flu jab.

“But the flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and your family this winter from a nasty virus that can be life-threatening to vulnerable people – which is why it’s free to those who need it most.

“Many people find winter especially challenging to their mental wellbeing. So if you have concerns about stress, anxiety or depression talk to a GP or go online to Healthy Minds – an NHS service for talking therapies, and practical support for adults with a Bucks GP:  You could also try Every Mind Matters which offers practical advice   

“The important thing is to seek advice or help right away for any illness before it gets worse.”

Everyone can play their part this winter and take practical steps to help themselves and others to stay as well as possible.  “By being a good neighbour to older people you can make a real difference to someone who may be lonely or vulnerable,” says Gill Quinton, Executive Director for Communities, Health and Adult Social Care at Buckinghamshire County Council.

“It’s as simple as offering to get some shopping for an older person– especially in icy weather so that they don’t struggle out and risk a nasty fall.  It’s also a good idea to be ready for winter – so look out for road gritting and weather updates which are broadcast on local radio and social media to help all residents to travel safely and be ready for winter.”

More information about being prepared for winter including: staying healthy, flu; volunteering, roads; school closures; floods and emergencies can be found on the Buckinghamshire County Council website

Carers – look after yourself and the people you care for this winter


Are you a carer or do you know someone who is?

 If you claim Carers Allowance you can get a free flu jab via the GP or pharmacist.

Getting the flu jab is a quick and simple way to protect yourself and those you look after from a potentially serious infection.

If you look after someone who has a learning disability please ensure they get the flu jab too. Please get in touch with your local pharmacy or GP who can help arrange this.


Learning Disability Register at the GP

It’s also important that people with learning disabilities, or their carers, ask to go onto the Learning Disability Register at their surgery – this ensures they receive an Annual Health Check, get extra time at appointments if needed and get their Health Action plan completed.

And remember, if you have a learning disability you should make sure you get the flu jab too.

Have your say – Gluten Free food prescriptions

The Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is reviewing guidance for GPs about prescribing gluten free foods and needs your views.

The CCG is looking to bring the prescribing of food items for people with Coeliac disease more in line with other patients that require a special diet. The NHS does not provide food on prescription for all patients that require a specialist diet including those with food intolerances (lactose, wheat) and food allergies (egg, fish, shellfish, peanut, sesame, soya and tree nut). Therefore it is looking to stop prescribing gluten free foods.

In 2018 the cost of the NHS providing gluten free food on prescription to people in Bucks was £111,000.

Around 350 patients in Bucks currently get gluten free foods on prescription. However, gluten free foods are far more easily available on the high street than when the prescription guidelines were originally developed.

Dr Shona Lockie, Clinical Director for the Medicines Management Team, said: “The time is right to review gluten free prescribing. There are a lot more options available to people now – so it seems sensible to take a fresh look at our current guidance.

“Everyone knows the NHS has a limited amount of money to meet people’s health needs so we are looking to reduce costs, without reducing people’s access to the foods they need to stay healthy. There are lots of cheap, naturally gluten free carbohydrate food alternatives available. These include rice, potatoes, lentils – as well as lots of flour alternatives such as rice flour, millet and corn flour.”

Meaning that a healthy diet can be achieved without the need for gluten free flour replacements.

Dr Lockie continues.”We accept that some people may still struggle to find affordable gluten free foods from their local shop. For this reason we want to understand who they are and what things we should consider before making any decisions.

“We would like as many people as possible to give us their views, whether they need to use gluten free food or not.”

People can give their views through Let’s Talk Health Bucks, an online public forum which people can join to give their views on healthcare in Bucks. There is a survey on the site about gluten free prescribing. Paper copies will also be available in dietician clinic at Stoke Mandeville and Amersham Hospitals. The consultation is open for eight weeks from 16 October to 10 December 2019.

The survey is available here from Wednesday 16 October.

The Future Arrangements for NHS Commissioning in Your Area

We are asking for views on proposals about the future of commissioning arrangements in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West.

Whatever commissioning arrangements are put in place in the future, our priority is making sure local needs are addressed, that we provide people with access to quality healthcare and that we reduce the health inequalities that exist today.

We have a responsibility to make sure valuable resources are used wisely and in the best way to support people in living longer, happier, healthier and more independently into their old age.

Over the past year, we have been exploring how our organisations can work more effectively to meet our shared ambition. This work, along with the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), has helped to shape our thinking about what any future arrangements could look like.

Please click here to view a document outlining our current thoughts for your views.

Comments can be emailed to or you can complete the online survey.


Access All Areas for people with learning difficulties and autism


Access All Areas is a free, all-day event for people with learning difficulties and autism in Buckinghamshire.

It is for people over 14 years old, their carers, families, friends and support services. There will be stalls and stands from businesses and services who have specific, useful products to offer as well activities that give people the chance to try things out. There will also be other, quieter activities, including a chill out area and yoga

Access All Areas is on 22 October at Stoke Mandeville Stadium.

You can book free tickets and view further information via this webpage

Life expectancy for someone with a learning difficulty is significantly lower than others due to a number of reasons: one being the lack of access or awareness of activities or services that can encourage healthy lifestyles and living. This event aims to help people understand what support and activities are available.

If you think you, a loved one or friend can benefit from the Access All Areas event, please come along or encourage others to do so to see what’s on offer. There will be cooking demos, smoothie-making bikes, inclusive sports, NHS services, advice and lots of other exciting things to try out.

The event is also seeking support from local businesses to provide items or things that can be taken away on the day for visitors. Please go to the information page above for more details.

BOB ICS Publishes Update on the Development of its Five Year Plan

The Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System (BOB ICS) has published an interim report on the development of its five year plan.

The report describes the range of organisations involved in the BOB ICS, how they work together and how they are developing their priorities and plans for the next five years.

We welcome your thoughts and comments on the suggested priorities, opportunities and challenges. This document is a first step in developing our plan. It does mean that some of the content covers broad themes and headlines, which is why the detail from others’ perspectives would be much appreciated.

Please email them, by Friday 18th October, to the following contact

Chiltern House Medical Centre to hold information sessions for Holmer Green patients

Residents of Holmer Green who use Chiltern House Medical Centre are being invited to attend two drop-in sessions in the village to find out more about how their primary care health will be delivered in the future.

Primary Care Management Solutions (PCMS), which will be providing GP services at Chiltern House Medical Centre in High Wycombe from 1 September, will hold the events later this month.

Dragon Cottage Surgery in Holmer Green – which was part of Chiltern House Medical Practice – closed last year after its lease expired. PCMS has been working with the Patient Participation Group at Chiltern House and NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group to ensure the primary care needs of Holmer Green residents will continue to be met. This will be through a range of options that will put the area at the forefront of finding new, innovative ways to serve patients in villages.

Phil Coates, MD of PCMS, said: “We are committed to continuing to serve the primary healthcare needs of our patients who live in Holmer Green and we are excited to be bringing innovative new plans to the village. We look forward to sharing our ideas and we hope as many people as possible can join us at these events.”

Allied healthcare professionals (AHPs) – including an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), paramedic and pharmacist will be on hand to explain the new approaches to delivering services in Holmer Green and how these plans will benefit residents.

There will be information on Q Doctor – an online doctor service providing secure, easy to use video GP consultations from a PC or smartphone – and how people less familiar with technology will be able to benefit.

Representatives from the Hazlemere, Widmer End & Holmer Green Good Neighbours Transport Scheme will be there, to promote their services. Other information on plans for local services will also be available at the drop-in sessions.

Both events will be held at the Sports Centre, 87 Watchet Lane, Holmer Green, HP15 6UF at the following times:

Wednesday, 28 August – 11am to 2pm

Friday, 30 August – 1.30 to 4.30pm

Everyone is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be available.

NHS Buckinghamshire CCG and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust joint AGM and Open Day

NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) are inviting the public to an open day and joint Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Stoke Mandeville Hospital on Saturday, 21 September, from 11am-3pm.

The AGM provides the opportunity to hear about the work of BHT and the CCG over the last year and their plans for the future of healthcare in Buckinghamshire.

The open day will offer behind-the-scenes tours at the hospital as well as live entertainment, refreshments and free fun activities for the whole family.

Performances scheduled for the day include a rock choir, LAR Performing Arts, Castielli School of Dance, Sesha Natya Niketan Indian Dance Group and Urban Strides.

There will be free parking available.

For more information, contact or call 01494 734853.

Pharmacy opening times – August Bank Holiday Monday (26 Aug)

 Please see below for details of which pharmacies will be open, and their operating hours, across the NHS Buckinghamshire CCG area on the August Bank Holiday Monday (26 August).

Where possible, please also plan ahead to make sure you get any repeat prescriptions ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend.

Please note – pharmacy opening hours on Bank Holidays are voluntary and are, therefore, subject to change.

Patients are advised to check if pharmacies are open by telephone before making a journey.

An enlargeable version of this information can be viewed by clicking here.

Local pharmacy details can be found on the NHS Choices website at under ‘More Services’.

If you are still not sure what health service option to use, and it is not an emergency, call NHS 111 for advice.

Proposed merger of Whitchurch, Wing and Norden House surgeries

Three Buckinghamshire GP practices are proposing to merge into one next year, to ensure they are in the best possible position to continue delivering high quality services to patients.

Whitchurch, Wing (Drs Peel & Davies), and Norden House surgeries, are all located in the North Bucks area. They aim to become a single practice on 1 April 2020, and are seeking feedback from patients on this proposal.

The planned merger would give patients greater access to GPs, nurses and other primary care support services, and would also allow the new practice to function more efficiently.

Patients will not experience any significant disruption and there are no plans for any buildings to close.

This means patients will still be able to see the same staff in these locations for face-to-face appointments.

The partners of the existing three practices said in a joint statement: “A merger will bring benefits for our patients, enabling us as GPs to continue to offer high quality and diverse services; while streamlining some of our systems and processes to support patients better.

“As a merged practice with a growing population, we want to deliver improved services for all our patients, giving them the best experience possible. We will also be better able to support those with complex, long term needs by sharing the resources and skills of our practice staff.

“We want to reassure our patients that we don’t expect these changes to affect the way they use our services. This is a really exciting opportunity for all three practices and we believe it will bring great benefit to all patients.”

Patient registration will be unaffected by the proposed merger.

Drop in sessions are being planned, allowing people to ask questions about what a merged practice might mean for them and feed back their views. Details of these sessions will be publicised in due course.

Patients can also send feedback

For more information, please see the practice websites:

Chiltern House Medical Practice – Holmer Green update

Further to the announcement that Primary Care Management Services has been awarded the contract to provide primary care medical services to the patients registered at Chiltern House Medical Centre, they met with the Patient Participation Group last week (Thursday 11th July) to discuss proposals for Holmer Green.

PCMS are clear that they want to ensure they have a presence in Holmer Green as well as supporting residents to access the Temple End surgery in Wycombe. Whilst this will not be in the form of a traditional surgery, they are considering innovative alternatives that would mean Holmer Green is leading the way in finding new ways to meet the needs of patients living in villages.

Although PCMS will continue to provide services to patients, their new contract does not go live until 1 September, and so PCMS are continuing discussions with the PPG in relation to their proposals which are:

  • Introducing a transport champion to support patients to use the Hazlemere & Widmer End Good Neighbours Including Holmer Green Community Transport service and help with bookings.
  • Introducing Q Doctor – an online video doctor service providing secure and easy to use video GP consultations from your PC or smartphone. They are investigating how support sessions may be delivered to assist those less familiar with technology.
  • Having an elderly care nurse and/or paramedic available who can visit patients who are frail or have mobility issues. This service is already in place in PCMS’s Mandeville practice and is receiving very positive feedback.

Finally, PCMS are investigating how they can work with the Pharmacy to provide a consultation base for services like support and advice, blood tests, and vaccinations. This is in the early stages of discussion and is very much dependent on a number of factors, but we will keep you updated on progress.

Taking a medical device on holiday? Don’t let airport scanners ruin your trip

If you’re travelling by air for a holiday or business trip and need to take a medical device with you, there is a new way to prevent them getting damaged at airport scanners. Getting a Medical Device Awareness Card before you fly could help you keep them safe.

Medical devices such as insulin pumps, Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) systems and freestyle libre (flash glucose monitor) devices should not be exposed to x-ray screening and airport scanners, which can cause potential damage.

The awareness card provides information for both the Security Officer and the passenger. Before going through the airport scanners, passengers should make the Security Officer aware of the device (including spare devices) and ask for an alternative security screening method.

Gill Dunn, Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group said “The awareness card is an excellent way to remind patients with an insulin pump or CGM how to prepare for their journey. This includes bringing some medical evidence with them to confirm they use a medical device.”

The awareness card has been produced by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and Airport Operators Association. It can be downloaded and printed direct from the CAA website

More information on the Medical Device Awareness Card is available at

The provision of primary medical services at Chiltern House Medical Centre

NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group is pleased to confirm that, following a successful procurement process, they have now awarded a contract to Primary Care Medical Solutions (PCMS) for the provision of primary care services to patients at Chiltern House Medical Centre (CHMC). PCMS are currently providing services at CHMC on an interim basis but their new contract will begin on 1 September.

Nicola Lester, Director of Transformation at Bucks CCG said: “Providing the best possible healthcare service to local communities is our priority.

“We have been working with the Patient Participation Group and the wider community to find out what services they would like from their GP practice and patients were involved in the procurement process. We have every confidence that PCMS will be able to provide a service that meets the needs of the local population, both in the High Wycombe and Holmer Green areas.

“Patients do not need to re-register or do anything differently they will be transferred seamlessly to the new provider on 1 September.”

PCMS Managing Director Phil Coates said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the contract for CHMC and have thoroughly enjoyed working with the team and patients over the past twelve months. We want to continue to develop CHMC and that will begin with a number of engagement events to ensure patients are given a say in how services are shaped to meet their needs. We look forward to providing safe, effective high quality care to the patients on a long-term basis.”

For more information about Primary Care Management Solutions, please visit:

New Independent Chair appointed to BOB Integrated Care System

David Clayton-Smith has been appointed to the role of Independent Chair of the Buckinghamshire Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System (BOB ICS).

David is currently the Independent Chair of the Epsom and St Helier Improving Healthcare Together 2020-30 Board and the Chair of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Sciences Network (AHSN).

He has extensive experience in Board level roles within the NHS, having formerly been Chair of the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (2016 and 2019), Chair of NHS Surrey for three years from 2010 and Chair of NHS Sussex between 2012 and 2013.

David is also a board member and Treasurer of Fairtrade International. He is director and co-founder of Andrum Consulting which specialises in supporting entrepreneurial businesses.

Throughout his career, David has held board-level positions in major blue-chip businesses, latterly as Commercial Director of Halfords and Marketing Director for Boots the Chemist.

The appointment to the role of Independent Chair follows an extensive recruitment process to find someone with the necessary leadership skills and experience to be a key ambassador for the ICS. As Independent Chair, David will work with Fiona Wise, ICS Executive Lead and Chief Executives from across the BOB ICS patch to support and promote partnership working, while making sure there is the appropriate level of independent oversight and assurance of ICS decisions and delivery of strategic priorities.

Speaking about his appointment David said: “I am committed to ensuring that partnership working continues to be a strong theme throughout the work of the ICS. I am looking forward to the opportunity to play my part in helping to achieve the BOB ICS ambition and vision for the communities we serve.”

New ways of working to free up doctors as part of the NHS Long Term Plan

Patients are set to get longer appointments with their family doctor thanks to new ways of working which start today.

Practices large and small will work to support each other and deliver a wider range of specialist care services for patients from a range of skilled health professionals.

Around 7,000 practices across England – more than 99% – have come together to form more than 1,200 Primary Care Networks.

GPs will recruit multi-disciplinary teams, including pharmacists, physiotherapists, paramedics, physician associates and social prescribing support workers, freeing up family doctors to focus on the sickest patients.

The initiative comes alongside efforts to recruit more GPs as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The latest figures show an increase of 300 more family doctors on the previous quarter, and the number of young doctors choosing to train as GPs now at a record high after increasing by 750.

There are also thousands more nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals working in general practice than there were just a few years ago.

Another 20,000, who will also include social prescribing link workers, are being recruited to work alongside GPs.

Up to a third of appointments do not need to be with a family doctor, and the new recruits will free up GPs to spend more time with patients who need them most, offering longer appointments to those who need them.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England and Improvement, said: “Strengthening general practice is a central part of the Long Term Plan, and Primary Care Networks have the potential to bring about the biggest improvement for a generation.

“As the PCNs get up and running in the coming weeks and months, patients will begin to see the benefits, freeing up GPs to focus on the sickest.

“This new way of working allows us to keep all that’s best about British general practice, while future-proofing it for the decade ahead.”

The NHS Long Term Plan will see funding for primary medical and community care increase as a share of the NHS budget for the first time in the health service’s 70-year history, with an extra £4.5 billion a year invested by 2023.

Additional funding from the five-year GP Contract agreed with the BMA at the end of January includes £1.8billion to fund the recruitment of 20,000 more specialist health care staff to support general practices.

This builds on the increase of more than 5,000 extra practice staff working with GPs over the past four years.

Patients will also have a range of options when it comes to getting appointments at their practice, including the introduction of digital appointments.

This will build on the progress which saw evening and weekend appointments made available across the country at the end of last year, with an estimated nine million appointments a year now available at more convenient times.

It also means GP practices will be able to drive further action on detecting and preventing killer conditions such as cancer and heart disease, as well as doing more to tackle obesity, diabetes and mental ill health, and support older people at home and in care homes.

Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and NHS England’s Acting Medical Director for Primary Care and a London GP, added: “People across the country will benefit from access to more convenient and specialist care through their local GP.

“As part of the Long Term Plan for the NHS, GP surgeries large and small will be working together to deliver more specialist services to patients.

“The extra investment, additional staff and more convenient care will be a game-changer for NHS patients and in thousands of communities across England, family doctors are coming together in networks which will not only deliver better care, but a more efficient use of vital NHS resources.”

While many of the networks are getting started today, and it will take some weeks or months for patients to see much change, some PCNs are already up and running and providing new services.

These include the Healthier South Wirral PCN, which is working with Age UK and has appointed a Personal Independence Care worker as part of a frailty pilot aimed at helping people in their own homes.

As a result, the network has reduced the need for GP appointments among those getting proactive support by more than half, and seen a 25% reduction in unplanned hospital admissions.

Dr Tom Wyatt, one of Healthier South Wirral’s Clinical Directors, said: “There is so much work going on out there and we wanted to have one collective approach to help people in our community stay well for longer.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair said: “It is impressive to see how quickly GP practices across England have responded to the contract changes negotiated between ourselves and NHS England just a few months ago, with over 99% now being part of a primary care network.

“With recurrent funding this should support the recruitment of over 20,000 additional people to work directly in practices as part of our healthcare teams.

“It means a pharmacist in every practice, not only reducing GP workload but also improving the quality of care. It will mean connecting patients with physiotherapists directly rather than having to wait for months for a referral, and it means social prescribers helping to meet the needs of those who are lonely and connecting them with others in the community.

“With GPs leading the development of a reinvigorated primary and community healthcare team we are not only starting to tackle the pressures of workload levels but we are also enabling GPs to focus more time on those who need us most.”

Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire West (BOB) Integrated Care System

It has been announced by NHS England/Improvement (NHSE/I) that Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West (BOB) now becomes an Integrated Care System.

It was recognised by NHSE/I that the progress made by Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West as early pioneers of integrated care has shown the difference it can make to the care and health of local communities when NHS providers, commissioners, local authorities and other sector partners work together.

For us in Buckinghamshire, this signals the move to becoming an Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) providing us with the opportunity to focus on delivering local services for local people whilst getting the benefits of working at scale and sharing expertise and resources across the BOB ICS.

Our 12 Primary Care Networks will be the building blocks of more localised health and care in communities, bringing together primary and community services, such as GPs, pharmacists and mental health.

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Board said: “I am delighted that NHS England has recognised the work we are doing in Buckinghamshire and the difference it is making to our residents. Together with our partners, we can continue to focus on the health and care needs of each community within Buckinghamshire.”

Lou Patten, Chief Executive Officer of Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It is important we continue our work in Buckinghamshire though our Integrated Care Partnership. Delivering larger projects across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West, allows us to focus on local services in our county.”