IMPROVEMENTS to Leigh GP practices have been highlighted at a prestigious healthcare awards.

SSP Health has been recognised nationally for its success in improving six GP practices in Leigh and Wigan borough by being shortlisted in the BMJ Awards, the UK’s premier healthcare awards which rewards inspirational work done in the sector.

SSP Health was a finalist in the Primary Care Team section of the awards, organised by the British Medical Journal, after making significant improvements to six GP practices across 11 locations: Leigh Family Practice and Leigh Sports Village Practice; Poplar Street and Nelson Street surgeries in Tyldesley and Atherton; Claire House Surgery, in Ince; Bryn Street Surgery, in Ashton; and Marsh Green Medical Practice.

After Wigan Borough CCG awarded contracts for the practices in August 2018, they were aligned to SSP’s holistic approach to health, focussing on improving the physical, social and psychological wellbeing of patients, as well as helping local communities.

The federation – which runs 36 GP surgeries across the North West caring for around 150,000 patients – benefits practices by providing extra training and support, back office efficiencies, centralised IT and enhanced services.

Patients at the Leigh and Wigan practices saw a host of improvements, including being offered longer appointments, a choice of phone and online appointments, greater access to annual check-ups and enhanced health services, and the surgeries worked much more closely with care homes and organised community events and projects.

The outcome included two of the practices receiving ‘Outstanding’ ratings from health regulator the CQC, reduced A&E attendances and emergency admissions by patients in all practices, and improved NHS Quality and Outcomes Framework QoF) figures. Marsh Green Medical Practice cut the number of opioid prescriptions it gave out by a third.

SSP Health’s Director and GP, Dr Shikha Pitalia, said: “When we were awarded the contracts for these practices, we found the full spectrum of GP services gave much scope for shared working for better patient care.

“They hadn’t been performing optimally for QoF, their medicines management and systems and processes for access needed a whole system review.

“This is a model SSP Health has developed over 20 years and which the NHS is now encouraging via the recent concept of Primary Care Networks.

“After we instigated the Holistic Patient Care Project, we were able to drastically improve the services we offer to these 30,000 patients, making them healthier and happier.

“Being shortlisted for this prestigious award is recognition of the hard work of all our staff across these practices and the head office which supports them.

“These practices are now among the best performing for QoF scores, which can help to reassure our patients in Leigh and Wigan that they are now receiving excellent healthcare.”