Attain supporting Primary Care Federations with the implementation of Extended Primary Care Access

Attain have been working around the country to support Primary Care Federations with the implementation of Extended Primary Care Access as part of the Prime Ministers Challenge Fund (PMCF). Here Clare Thomason, Attain Associate Director, talks about the work we have completed in Wigan.

Attain have been providing expert programme management and implementation support to a newly formed GP Alliance (three GP Federations) based in the Wigan Borough. The GP Alliance successfully secured funding from the Wave 2 Prime Ministers Challenge Fund to implement extended access to primary care services throughout the borough. Attain’s support has included programme management, organisational development, service design and development support, service implementation and mobilisation support along with negotiation and contract management of sub-contracted providers.

The project is expected to provide benefits for groups who may find it difficult to access GP services during existing opening times, such as working people and carers who are dependent on others who work to take over their caring duties whilst visiting primary care services.

After engaging Attain’s support the GP Alliance rapidly implemented a new service over a period of eight weeks. The new service went live on 8th July, enabling patients of Wigan GP practices to have the choice to access Primary Care services during weekends and evenings at their convenience. Access is currently provided through a universal number which patients can dial and access urgent same day appointments along with planned booked appointments at their convenience. Call handling and patient booking is supported through a local out of hours provider in a neighbouring borough. The service is currently delivered from two hubs, with a further seven hubs due to come on line in the next month. Future development plans also include the provision of ‘wrap around’ services including phlebotomy services, health checks, community nursing, long term condition clinics and social care.

An innovative single clinical IT system provides access to ‘Shared Clinical Records’ across all practices and each site will have access to innovative technology to allow telephone and video consultations with primary care services. Any patient in the borough is able to book an appointment to see a GP or nurse during the additional hours – 6.30pm to 8pm weekdays and 10am to 4pm Saturdays – by using a central booking number.

Feedback from service users has been overwhelmingly positive with several patients suggesting that the service is great for those working fulltime and that it makes life easier as time does not have to be taken off work to see a clinician.

“Wigan GP Alliance selected Attain to help us to implement our extended access model as they had the experience, the “can do” attitude, were priced competitively and didn’t confuse us with management speak. We had just over eight weeks to cover a vast amount of work and I still can’t believe how we’ve managed it all. I know we couldn’t have done it without Attain. I feel that Attain have provided us with answers and help rather than questions and barriers, and I think that we are in a stronger and clearer position to take things forward as a result. I feel we’ve been able to put together something that works and something that will last, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Attain and, in particular, Elaine Gilliland, our programme manager, again.”
Dr Ian Owen, Medical Lead, SRO Wigan PMCF


“We have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the Wigan GP Access Alliance to enable the three Federations in Wigan to deliver extended access for their patient population and support the local health and social care economy.”
Clare Thomason (Associate Director, Attain), Programme Delivery Director