Chief executive of Salford Health Matters, which runs the practice in Eccles and was judged outstanding, Neil Turton, said the new-look inspection team was thorough, but that its focus was relentlessly on important areas.
‘Having a practice manager and a GP on the team made a big difference, they looked at absolutely everything,’ he said.
‘They did not look at anything that would not be considered important by a practice with a quality improvement agenda. Everything they looked at were things that we were working on already.’
‘They looked at the culture of the organisation and teamwork, but the approach to staffing is really important. How are you meant to work well without a well-supported, motivated, and dare I say it, happy workforce?’
The Eccles practice is one of three surgeries in Salford run by Salford Health Matters, a social enterprise company formed seven years ago.
Of the first two outstanding practices whose reports were published by the CQC as part of its new inspection regime, Salford Health Matters was the only one to be assessed as outstanding for treating every category of patient.
The three practices at Salford Health Matters operate one call centre, with centralised back office functions. Each practice has a clinical lead, who works as a GP, but is also given time to manage each clinical team’s clinical quality and safety.
Each practice employs one advanced nurse practitioner who diagnoses, treats, refers and prescribes, as ‘an equal’ to GPs.
Two ‘wellbeing coaches’ are employed at the practices, working with patients with long-term conditions to attempt to change their behaviour, and it operates a drop-in service for homeless people.
In the seven years of its existence, Salford Health Matters has brought together three existing practices to operate as a forward-thinking not-for-profit organisation, and Mr Turton believes that expanding the scale and professionalism of general practice, without losing its connection with patients, is how the discipline must evolve.
‘General practice should be better able, at the right scale, to manage patients outside hospital,’ he said.
‘That is essential if the NHS is to remain affordable going forward.
‘We need to create primary care organisations that will be attractive to doctors of the future. And they’re more likely to want to work part time and have portfolio careers, so we need to allow GPs to have more of a leadership role and special areas of interest.’