£525k will ‘lay the foundations’ for the future of Weston’s health system

The trio outside New Court and Longton Grove Surgery. Picture: Eleanor Young

The trio outside New Court and Longton Grove Surgery. Picture: Eleanor Young - Credit: Eleanor Young

Weston and Worle GP surgeries have been handed half a million pounds to spend on improving and developing services for patients.

Chair of the provider locality, Dr John Heather. Picture: Eleanor Young

Chair of the provider locality, Dr John Heather. Picture: Eleanor Young - Credit: Eleanor Young

Eleven practices in Weston, Worle, Banwell and Winscombe are the lucky recipients of £400,000 for the Intensive Support Scheme (ISS) project.

The Government put aside £10million for primary care in each region of the country and Weston has been presented with the South West portion of the cash – as well as an additional £125,000 to put towards the continuity of care.

Mercury reporter Eleanor Young sat down with chair of the locality, Dr John Heather, ISS programme manager Denys Rayner and practice manager Eloise Poynter to find out more details.

ISS programme manager Denys Rayner. Picture: Eleanor Young

ISS programme manager Denys Rayner. Picture: Eleanor Young - Credit: Eleanor Young


The aim of the ISS is to bring GP surgeries in the Weston, Worle and Villages Locality Group together to offer personal support to doctors and nurses, practice support, improvements to the system and to improve patient care.

Mr Rayner told the Mercury: “We have to spend the money by March next year so we are getting everything in place for the future.

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“We are laying the foundations for future healthcare in Weston and Worle.”

New Court and Longton Grove practice manager Eloise Poynter. Picture: Eleanor Young

New Court and Longton Grove practice manager Eloise Poynter. Picture: Eleanor Young - Credit: Eleanor Young


One of the many reasons Weston and Worle secured the funding is due the proportion of doctors and nurses who are closer to retirement age than the national and regional average.

Fifty-eight per cent of the locality’s GP and nurses are over 55 years old.

In a bid to recruit and retain younger doctors and nurses, the ISS will look to improve the work/life balance of GPs and create an exciting environment for prospective applicants.

Dr Heather said: “We want to help people work towards maybe a certain field – portfolio careers – to make the job more attractive.

“Younger GPs want to have variety and they what to have careers which allow them to be a specialist.”

Changes to the administrative duties have meant people like Dr Heather have gone from having to trawl through 50-70 documents a day to less than 10.

Ms Poynter said: “The ISS will enable the practice to do something fundamentally different.

“It is a massive change in the way we will run our services so we have got to bring all the staff on board so everyone knows what they are doing and how to operate the new system essentially and the time scales are short so that in itself is quite a tough piece of work for what is a one person role to take forward.”


One thing the ISS will focus on is improving access for patients to the ‘right person, first time’.

Dr Heather said: “The ISS has got a lot of initiatives, one of the big ones is improving access to general practice through digital tools.

“This tool will give us greater control of the demand which comes in.”

The ISS has already started making improvements for patients to access physiotherapists, mental health nurses and healthcare assistants within its practices without having to jump through hoops.

Dr Heather added: “It is all about getting the right person, first time and then recognising not all practices have access to those specialist entities so making sure we are collaborating with other surgeries to create better access.”

Mr Rayner added: “The practices in Weston are more collegiate, we have 11 willing practices who have demonstrated they can work together.

“It is a long journey, we are not going to get there tomorrow. We are planting the foundations and instilling hope to our patients.

“It is having a vision of where healthcare is going to be.”

Mr Poynter added: “It gives patients access to its services and they should notice a difference in a positive way but we really need to get the implementation of it right.”


The additional £125,000 secured by the locality will be spent on making sure patients are seeing the same team of healthcare professionals to ensure they receive the best possible health care available to them.

Dr Heather added: “We are taking control making sure patients get continuity of care – so they are seeing the same doctor – not only does it improve access but they have better outcomes and better management of their condition and fewer referrals to secondary care.”

The processes will also see a reduction in the amount of paperwork for doctors.

Mr Rayner added: “A major part of this project is to look at processes in practices to make sure there is consistency to run things more efficiently to free up and relieve pressure on GPs.

“Doctors need to be caring for patients, not taking up their time with admin.”

The ISS will help streamline the base on which all 11 practices are run, without taking away their ‘unique flavour’.

By implementing some standard key performance indicators, people will be able to expect a good quality of service regardless of the practice they are visiting.