A pioneering consortium of GP practices in Chorley could be redesigning the primary care model, says a regulator.
It comes as Chorley Surgery in Gillibrand Street was rated as Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission in its August inspection.
The surgery leads on a programme to address diabetes cases within the geographical areas of six clinics, with a culminating population of over 50,000 patients.
This means that the numbers referred to hospital are virtually nil – a key platform of NHS reform, reducing the pressure on the acute sector.
David Fryer, spokesman at the Care Quality Commission says Chorley Surgery is able to do this because the practice, in collaboration with other practices, has a nominated GP that runs the clinics and a number of senior practice nurses that can see patients.
He said: “Is the blueprint for the future? Should this be the way that patients can be seen more conveniently and quicker and are there other services or health conditions that can become part of this referral system?
“It’s forging a new type of primary care, those who do have specialisms can mean there are far fewer referrals to hospital.”
As well as Chorley Surgery, the consortium of surgeries involved in the initiative include Regent House Surgery, Library House Surgery, Granville House Medical Centre, Euxton Medical Centre and Acreswood Surgery.
At the Diabetes hub, run by the group, patients only have to wait three or four weeks for an appointment. This is contrasted with a 20-week waiting list at hospitals.
Practice manager at Chorley Surgery Andrea Trafford said: “We look at those patients that would normally be referred to hospital. They might need to start on insulin for example. Up to six patients can come together in a two-hour session and start together.
“They enjoy it because they are with like-minded people in similar conditions. It’s nurse-led and they can have a follow-up session four weeks later.
“We’ve found that its had an impact on patient referral times.”
Commenting on the inspection of Chorley Surgery CQC’s deputy chief inspector of General Practice in the North, Alison Holbourn said: “This is an innovative and collaborative practice that has done some outstanding work in partnership with other GP practices.
"The practice provided clinical support and treatment to their own patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (including complex cases) and the patients of the five GP practices they worked collaboratively with. The initial impact of the service enabled patients to be seen quickly within a three to four week wait at the diabetic hub as opposed to the secondary care waiting list of 20 weeks or more.”
The hub is the first of its kind in Chorley and South Ribble. Andrea said: “The national shift is about moving services out of acute settings and into primary care settings.
“The patients don’t need to go into an acute setting and it reduces the pressure on hospitals and brings waiting lists down.”
Commenting on the rating of Outstanding from the CQC Andrea added: “This achievement puts us in the top four per cent of practices in England.”
Congratulating the surgery Dr Gora Bangi, chairman of Chorley and South Ribble CCG, said: “This is excellent news. Well done to everyone at the practice.
“They should all be very proud of what is a brilliant achievement.”
To view the full report from the CQC go to http://www.cqc.org.uk/location/1-2500861172