2016/17 – a year of progress

Our review of 2016/17 illustrates the breadth of work the Federation is now involved with. Geographically this includes North East Essex, which is now combined with Suffolk for NHS planning purposes.


A significant portion of our membership engaged in discussions around the strategic options for primary care going forward. This included 43 practice visits and open meetings. Awareness of the different options, such as merger, collaboration, super-partnership and salaried model, is now high according to a survey conducted by GPs from our Future Leaders programme.

A significant proportion of practices are now discussing how to approach the challenges in primary care, including 13 practices forming Suffolk Primary Care single-partnership and the development of Ipswich Primary Care.

The Fed now has responsibility for its first directly managed practice at Walton in Felixstowe and are taking on Christmas Maltings & Clements in Haverhill. We also facilitated a collaborative ‘On the Day’ team in Felixstowe. This model has raised interest in other areas as a way to reduce pressure on duty doctors.

On the workforce front we have continued to run programmes for younger doctors, GP future leaders and practice managers. This year we also introduced a new programme for GPs coming toward the end of their careers and facilitated a Suffolk First5 – a regular meeting to support newly qualified GPs.

We are really pleased that this investment is now bearing fruit with a cohort of clinicians and managers able to lead change. Looking forward, we plan to expand the programme to include nurses.

Our provision of services continues to work well.  GP+ delivers high quality accessible care which is actively supporting practices, particularly in Ipswich, that are under severe pressure.  To date, GP+ has delivered over 20,000 appointments with very few complaints.  We have met NHS England’s targets and as a result the service is expanding its capacity and trebling the number of sites it operates from.

Ultrasound continues to offer a superb service, with easy access and short waiting times.  In North East Essex our diabetes service has continued to improve outcomes, with the service going from bottom to top quartile in three years. This year had a ‘Focus on Feet’ and as a result waiting times have fallen from 18 weeks to immediate for urgents and less than a fortnight for high risk. Our pain service in the West of the county also has good outcome data.

We are pleased that our relationship with both clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) has significantly improved.  Along with the county council, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and the two hospitals we have formed accountable care organisations that we hope will lead to a new integrated way of working. Unfortunately, Suffolk primary care still speaks through multiple voices (CCGs, the local medical committee and the Fed) and this weakens our impact.

Many of the Fed’s internal systems and processes have been updated during the year.  We have implemented learning from an incident which resulted in a former nurse employee being removed from the NMC register.

Feedback on our new newsletter format has been positive.

Our main challenge continues to be how we directly support struggling member practices.  Unfortunately, the federation model means there is only a limited amount we can offer. We are hoping that our Prescribing Support Service, using pharmacists, will be a model for the type of support we can offer in the future. This will launch next year.

Finally, I AM pleased to report that all of this has been delivered without any funding from member practices or the CCGs.


David Pannell

Suffolk GP Federation Chief Executive