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More resources needed to realise full potential of PCTs – report

A policy brief, titled Interdisciplinary Team Working in Ireland: A New Direction 16 Years On, says that this has been caused by a lack of resources for GP team participation, a lack of training for health professionals to work together and the “damaging effects” of the HSE staff moratorium.

Seen by the Medical Independent (MI), the policy brief outlines the findings of an online survey and interview study conducted in HSE West, South and Dublin Mid-Leinster between 2014 and 2017.

The brief was recently submitted to the HSE and Department of Health and makes a number of findings and recommendations.

“HSE management should improve engagement and communication with GPs and other primary healthcare professionals ‘on the ground’ about healthcare system development options and decisions eg, about the new CHO [Community Healthcare Organisation] structures and the impact on equity and consistency of service,” the brief states.

It also recommends that GP contracts be revised to provide resources to support GP and practice nurse involvement in PCTs.

More resources should be directed to increase administrative support and to back-fill posts for maternity and sick leave. New posts should also be developed, the brief outlines.

The study authors would also like to see training for general practice staff and primary healthcare
professionals to work together in HSE PCTs and more resources for PCT infrastructure.

The study highlighted frustration that HSE metrics for PCT working are “limited to quantitative information about the meetings”.

Because of this, it recommends new metrics be devised regarding the quality and outcome of team-working and the nature of community participation in PCTs.

A metric on other forms of interdisciplinary work that are taking place could be gathered by using the HSE excellence awards criteria, the brief notes. 

A number of “bottom-up” interdisciplinary innovations in primary care, including the development of integrated care plans for patients with complex care needs, are also highlighted.

Led by Principal Investigator at the University of Limerick (UL), Prof Anne MacFarlane, the study was funded by the Health Research Board (HRB).

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