The General Practice Podcast

Ben Gowland explores new ways of working in general practice. He talks to those making changes happen, gets underneath what they did, how they managed to do it, and the challenges they faced along the way.
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The General Practice Podcast







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Now displaying: 2021
Mar 1, 2021

Telehealth is a tool which can be used in a variety of ways; to support and enhance existing systems or to introduce a completely new way of working. Whilst telehealth is a relatively new concept in many areas, in others it is a more long-term feature of the health ecosystem.  In West Yorkshire, Immedicare offer a 24/7 digital care service to support primary care providers with the management of care home patients. Having been established for over 10 years, they know only too well what works, what does not and crucially how to realise the benefits of telehealth; enabling rapid triage and response around the clock, reducing secondary care admissions and relieving pressure on care home staff, local practices and PCNs. Rachel Binks, Nurse Practitioner for Digital and Acute Care at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, joins Ben this week to fill us in on the Immedicare journey and why they have been instrumental in improving health outcomes for their care home patients.


Introduction (34 secs)

How did the concept first come about? (46 secs)

The Immedicare journey (1 min 26 secs)

Enabling a 24/7 service (2 mins 11 secs)

800 care homes and counting (3 mins 43 secs)

How does the service work in practice? (4 mins 32 secs)

What is the contractual basis of the service and where does it fit with local providers? (5 mins 12 secs)

Managing a broad spectrum of conditions and health concerns (7 mins 13 secs)

The importance of building and maintaining relationships (7 mins 56 secs)

The Immedicare clinical workforce (9 mins 27 secs)

Making the service viable (10 mins 15 secs)

Balancing relationships with local PCNs and practices (11 mins 16 secs)

Multi-disciplinary team meetings (12 mins 59 secs)

What has been the impact of the service? (13 mins 36 secs)

Technical limitations? (14 mins 16 secs)

Reducing community care visits and admissions (14 mins 50 secs)

Aligning with new PCN services and staff teams (15 mins 51 secs)

Feedback from the care homes (16 mins 42 secs)

Financial and contractual setup (17 mins 14 secs)

What’s next as far as developing the service is concerned? (18 mins 23 secs)

Finding out more (19 mins 17 secs)


Immedicare website is here

Rachel is happy to discuss any aspect of the service on offer from Immedicare or telehealth more broadly. Her email address is here

Feb 22, 2021

It is undeniable that the success of the Covid vaccination programme so far is due to the efficiency and the herculean efforts of general practice staff across the board; from volunteers, to drivers, Practice Managers, doctors, nursing, and administration teams who all continue to go the extra mile to try to get the country back on its feet. On our dedicated monthly Practice Index / Ockham podcast, we have closely followed the progress of our Practice Managers (and their teams) from the beginning in December and January - and this week we revisit their journeys at a pivotal point as they smash their initial target of vaccinating the most vulnerable patient groups with their first doses. On this month’s panel, podcast regular Nicola Davies is joined by her colleagues Kay Keane of Alvanley Family Practice (and network manager for Werneth PCN) and Andrew Athale, Practice Manager for Eastmoor and Alverthorpe GP practices, to discuss their largely positive experiences so far but also the additional pressure they and their wider colleagues are feeling, their views on ensuring full and accurate financial reimbursement across their networks and what comes next as far as core general practice demand and delivery of second doses are concerned.


Introductions (34 secs)

Progress on the vaccination programme in each area; starting with Nicola’s (1 min 30 secs)

Kay tells us about her experiences in Stockport so far (2 mins 26 secs)

Kay’s role in the process (3 mins 1 secs)

Patient inspiration (3 mins 29 secs)

How has it gone so far in Andrew’s network? (4 mins 5 secs)

Meeting the challenge of vaccinating care home residents and house bound patients (5 mins 3 secs)

Processing payment (7 mins 51 secs)

The problem with Pinnacle (9 mins 20 secs)

Ensuring accurate and timely distribution of funds (10 mins 5 secs)

The pressure of working at scale when it comes to financial reimbursement (10 mins 58 secs)

Wider network impacts (12 mins 22 secs)

Could this be the making of PCNs? (13 mins 13 secs)

How has the set up of the mass vaccination sites affected local practices? (14 mins 14 secs)

Are PCNs really in competition with the mass vaccinations sites? (15 mins 55 secs)

Delivery of vaccines at a more local level (17 mins 30 secs)

Preparations for second doses (18 mins 56 secs)

Why delivery notifications need to be right (19 mins 30 secs)

Managing core general practice demand alongside the vaccine drive (20 mins 2 secs)

Pressure on Practice Managers (20 mins 49 secs)

Ben’s closing remarks (22 mins 25 secs)


The Practice Index website can be found here

For all enquiries, please contact James Dillon here

Feb 15, 2021

With demand on general practice already at an all-time high, many practices and networks require a smarter solution to manage staffing and rotas, to ensure the pressure of core primary care work, alongside the mass vaccination drive, can be effectively delivered. Dr Ishani Patel, GP and co-founder of the digital staff bank solution Lantum is back on the podcast and joined by colleague, Lantum account manager, Tom Herbert-Maynard, to update us on the progress that Lantum has made, how their solution is supporting ICSs up and down the country to create a fully flexible workforce across the NHS eco-system, their influence on staffing the vaccination sites and most importantly, to provide information on the NHSEI funding available now for ICSs to enable procurement of and access to a digital staff bank.


Introductions (38 secs)

Who are Lantum and what role are they playing in supporting the vaccination rollout? (51 secs)

How does a digital staff bank work where the vaccination programme is concerned? (1 min 39 secs)

Lessons learned from the programme so far (3 mins 28 secs)

What advantages does a digital system offer versus traditional methods of rota management? (5 mins 38 secs)

How would a rota manager organise staffing using an online portal, in practice? (6 mins 8 secs)

Governance considerations (8 mins 14 secs)

Maintaining a good rate of vaccinations and how the system could support this (8 mins 26 secs)

The key differences between smaller vaccination hubs and larger scale vaccination sites (9 mins 28 secs)

NHSEI funding availability (11 mins 5 secs)

Putting a flexible staffing pool in place across an ICS (12 mins 46 secs)

Which roles can be managed within a digital staff bank? (14 mins 34 secs)

Enabling delivery of truly integrated care (15 mins 22 secs)

Breaking down organisational boundaries (16 mins 29 secs)

How do I access the NHSEI funding offer? (17 mins 29 secs)

I am a Clinical Director, and I would like to find out more (18 mins 29 secs)

Getting in touch (19 mins 20 secs)


The Lantum website is here

Ishani is contactable here

This page explains a little more about how Lantum can provide 'connected scheduling' between staff banks.

What should be the key considerations when sourcing a digital staff bank provider? Lantum’s blog post is here

Feb 8, 2021

With the right training and support in place, Physician Associates can play an important part in relieving a proportion of the clinical burden on GPs and their wider staff. As the role is now included in those available through the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme, we persuaded Ria Agarwal, herself an experienced Physician Associate (PA), to make a return to the podcast, to share her experiences and her tips for getting the best out of a newly recruited PA. Why she believes they can really make a difference to practice productivity, what PA preceptorships (such as the scheme currently on offer in Sheffield) can bring in the way of support and how to get the best out of your newest recruit.


Introduction (34 secs)


Four years in the life of a Physician Associate (PA) (48 secs)


Is the PA role now more widely accepted in general practice? (2 mins 5 secs)


The inclusion of PAs in the additional roles’ reimbursement scheme (2 mins 39 secs)


Preceptorship schemes (2 mins 58 secs)


What is involved in a preceptorship typically? (3 mins 46 secs)


Structuring PA consulting appointments in the first year (6 mins 24 secs)


Progression and training (7 mins 16 secs)


The influence of a practice in enhancing the potential of a PA (8 mins 26 secs)


Is there a benefit to newly qualified PAs having access to and mentorship from a more experienced PA? (11 mins 3 secs)


Tackling recruitment (12 mins 31 secs)


Expectation versus reality (15 mins 11 secs)


Why where you base your PA matters (16 mins 24 secs)


Preceptorship funding (17 mins 22 secs)


The key to success (18 mins 30 secs)


Final thoughts and advice (19 mins 44 secs)



A link to Ria’s paper on the preceptorship scheme available in Sheffield is here


Feb 1, 2021

When primary care networks were first launched, many believed this might spell the end for GP federations, but this is not necessarily the case. There are numerous examples of some innovative partnership models developing across the country to support PCNs in delivering the best quality care and whereby federations are providing the resources to absorb some of the key workstreams, thus removing the burden from practice and network staff. Alliance for Better Care, or ABC as they are commonly known, are a typical example of a GP federation who are achieving success by working collaboratively with their PCNs. This is due, in part, to the expertise of their two Network Development Managers, Caroline Upton and Lena Abdu, who join Ben on the podcast to give an insight into their roles, what they entail, where they have made a difference and why partnership working might be the way forward.



Introductions (38 secs)


ABC demographic and mission (57 secs)


Lena’s background (1 min 39 secs)


Caroline’s journey to becoming a Network Development Manager (2 mins 42 secs)


Sharing the management of networks from a federation perspective (3 mins 14 secs)


Ownership of dedicated work packages (4 mins 2 secs)


The importance of maintaining strong relationships with individual clinical directors (4 mins 48 secs)


Communication and engagement with wider teams (5 mins 34 secs)


Other available support for PCNs (6 mins 42 secs)


All about recruitment (7 mins 53 secs)


The additional roles scheme (10 mins 23 secs)


Managing workload and demand capacity (12 mins 4 secs)


Meeting the new general practice service specifications (13 mins 13 secs)


Meeting representation (15 mins 38 secs)


What are the main challenges? (17 mins 31 secs)


How are the Network Development Manager roles costed? (19 mins 43 secs)


Finding out more and getting in touch (21 mins 32 secs)



Alliance for Better Care’s website can be found here



Email: and / or

Jan 25, 2021

It has been arguably some of the toughest few weeks general practice has ever known. The pressure of the delivery of the vaccination programme has been felt by teams up and down the country and our joint Ockham / Practice Index podcast regulars are no different. In this sixth instalment of our hugely popular practice manager panel posts, Nicola Davies, Robyn Clark and Ben are joined by Business Manager Amita Gokani to discuss their experiences of working at the forefront of the vaccination programme, so far. Each have faced their own challenges locally and are at different stages in the immunisation campaign and we have been fortunate to get their insights on how the first six weeks have gone for each of them; the highs, the lows and then what comes next.


Introductions (35 secs)


Robyn in the headlines (1 min)


The Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) update (2 mins 47 secs)


The last 6 weeks in Nicola’s patch (3 mins 1 sec)


Dealing with local frustrations (3 mins 57 secs)


Amita’s recent experiences in Redbridge (5 mins 9 secs)


The impact of short notice, unannounced and cancelled deliveries (6 mins 49 secs)


Working through the cohorts versus potential for wastage (7 mins 30 secs)


Progress in Robyn’s area (8 mins 15 secs)


The potential for increased flexibility and where this has been limited (9 mins 3 secs)


What happened when the guidelines for administering the second dosage changed? (10 mins 57 secs)


The challenges presented by continually changing guidance and regulation (11 mins 42 secs)


Nicola’s view on these continuous changes (12 mins)


Managing staffing and rotas (14 mins 19 secs)


The limitations of running services on staffing good will (15 mins 45 secs)


The approach to care homes and housebound patients in Robyn’s area (17 mins 15 secs)


Anticipating the weeks ahead: Robyn and Amita (18 mins 9 secs)


All systems go for Nicola (19 mins 31 secs)


The Practice Index website can be found here


For all enquiries, please contact James Dillon here

Jan 18, 2021

Recruiting from the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) pot isn’t simply a case of picking out which services and posts you think would best suit your network or practice. As many are discovering, it requires a bit of a step back and some critical thinking as to what might work now versus in the future, what the needs of the local population are, how much capacity there might be to support new, additional team members and how they can best function across large networks and / or multiple practices. In this week’s podcast, we welcome back Dr Riaz Jetha, GP and Director of Health Integration Partners, whose team have adopted a novel approach to managing the process of applying for, funding and integrating new clinical posts into existing teams. Can there really be a magic formula which supports us in identifying the right roles, which can ensure we better meet the needs of the PCN and stay within the funding budget?



Introduction (40 secs)


How did the adoption of the process mapping methodology come about? (1 min)


How would we use a role instead of what role should we get (an alternative mindset) (3 mins 3 secs)


Where to begin (4 mins 26 secs)

Some surprising outcomes (7 mins 47 secs)


The value of the non-clinical functions (9 mins 33 secs)


Summing up a phased approach to the ARRS process (12 mins 28 secs)


Blending clinical and leadership skills (13 mins 30 secs)


Plugging the gaps in developmental and holistic support for newly recruited ARRS staff (13 mins 52 secs)


Alleviating the burden on PCNs and practices (15 mins 11 secs)


Riaz’s view on ARRS funding models (15 mins 51 secs)


Applying the funding more flexibly (17 mins 43 secs)


Being more creative when it comes to recruitment (18 mins 44 secs)


Key lessons learned (19 mins 45 secs)


Measuring the benefits of process mapping (20 mins 38 secs)


Getting in touch (21 mins 37 secs)




The link to the Health Integration Partners website can be found here


Contact email for Riaz here


A sample presentation showing the analysis of staffing a new service can be found here

Jan 11, 2021

With the recent inclusion of pharmacists within the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme offer, many practices and networks are seriously considering utilising the skills and services a pharmacist can bring to their table. However, many are equally uncertain as to what the pharmacists can cover, how to integrate them best within their teams and more practically, what the best model of employment might be to benefit both the new post holder and the PCN, amongst other things. Luckily, Mahmud Yusupov and Runa Salim, both Senior Clinical Pharmacists and joint founders of the innovative Clinical Pharmacist Solutions join Ben this week to talk us through all of the key practical aspects that PCNs must consider during the recruitment process and beyond – and from a third-party perspective, how they can support primary care in getting the best out of the new roles.



Introductions (36 secs)


Mahmud’s background and an introduction to Clinical Pharmacist Solutions’ mission (55 secs)


All about Runa (1 min 26 secs)


Attracting pharmacists to primary care and ensuring they can practice effectively (1 min 57 secs)


What are pharmacists looking for specifically when it comes to a career in general practice? (3 mins 23 secs)


The importance of the interview (5 mins 19 secs)


What support can Clinical Pharmacist Solutions for PCNs during the recruitment process? (6 mins 12 secs)


Matching the requirements of a practice to the skillset of a pharmacist (7 mins 44 secs)


Assessments of skills / training needs analysis (8 mins 14 secs)


How long does it take to upskill a pharmacist? (10 mins 15 secs)


Blending externally provided learning with CPPE training (11 mins 49 secs)


Reducing staff turnover (13 mins 1 sec)


Mahmud and Runa’s thoughts on potential employment models (14 mins 23 secs)


Funding challenges (16 mins 9 secs)


Getting in touch (18 mins 5 secs)



The link to the Clinical Pharmacist Solutions website can be found here


Their LinkedIn page is here

Jan 6, 2021

At the end of last year Ben recorded a review of 2020 with Dr Hussain Gandhi and Dr Andrew Foster from the eGPlearning podblast.  We cover the impact of Covid on general practice, how that changed over the course of the year, and reflect on what the lasting implications of this might be for the service.  It is a slightly longer listen than our normal podcast episodes at 45 minutes – primarily because there is so much to cover! 

Jan 4, 2021

There are generally more failures than success stories when it comes to launching and maintaining community based urgent care services across the country so what have the team in Rochdale done differently? To kick off the new year, Ben is joined by GP Dr Zalan Alam, Clinical Director for the hugely successful and pioneering Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Urgent Community Care Team who gives an inspiring insight into their five-year journey to date; from establishing a business case, to taking a more flexible approach to their service specification, where they have grown and continually adapted, the lessons learned and their future aspirations.


Introduction (34 secs)


Zalan’s role and an overview of the service model (51 secs)


Establishment of the service and some key factors in its success to date (1 min 56 secs)


The business case (3 mins 7 secs)


A typical patient journey (4 mins 58 secs)


Capacity challenges? (6 mins 29 secs)


Impact of Covid (7 mins 11 secs)


Integrating social prescribers (8 mins 50 secs)


The five-year evolution of the service (9 mins 50 secs)


Lessons learned (11 mins 30 secs)


Zalan’s thoughts on integrated care (13 mins 4 secs)


Cultivating a shared vision (14 mins 57 secs)


An alternative approach to the service specification (15 mins 33 secs)


What’s next? (16 mins 36 secs)


Finding out more (18 mins 14 secs)



Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale’s Intermediate Care Team website


Contact points for the service as follows:


Dr Zalan Alam Clinical Director for Intermediate Tier Services 


Wendy Antil Service Manager 


Ruth Chamberlain Directorate Manager


The link to Zalan’s first podcast episode is here