Community Links Practitioners – an invaluable role
- Written by: Practice Manager, Keppoch Medical Practice
- Published: 12th September 2023
Delivering a general practice fit for the future.
I have worked at Keppoch Medical Practice since December 2014 and in the role of Practice Manager since April 2020. I have experienced what it is like to work both with and without a Community Links Practitioners (CLPs) and have witnessed first-hand the positive impact our CLPs have on our patients, the community and the entire practice team.
The Practice is located in the Possilpark area of Glasgow, where 81% of our patients are living in the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland (Public Health Scotland, 2022). At the heart of this statistic are a practice team who are passionate and care deeply about improving the lives of our patients, both medically and socially. We pride ourselves on being a caring, forward thinking, inclusive team and our ethos focusses heavily on delivering the best possible holistic care for our patients.
Prior to having a full-time CLP, our team were drowning, trying to simultaneously treat and deal with medical and social issues within one fifteen minute appointment. Even with the help of the wider practice team, trying to keep up to date with all the available community services that could be of help, this still wasn’t enough to address the urgent help our patients needed in addressing other non-medical/social issues that were having a direct impact on both their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Now we have our CLP, who are dedicated and highly skilled, working full-time and embedded in the Practice, supporting both our patients and team alike. Our entire practice team can refer patients to our CLP and patients are able to have longer appointment times to really focus on what they need. Our GPs feel that this has saved GP time and helps them to focus on medical issues, allowing time to holistically enquire about our patients’ lives. They get higher job satisfaction by seeing the difference this makes to the lives of our patients.
Our nursing team have also described our CLP as an asset to the team and feels they have taken a lot of pressure off their team as the CLP is on hand to provide emotional and social support to our patients and has a wide range of resources to aid the community.
Our administration team can directly refer patients to our CLP, meaning patients are able to get help from the right person quicker, rather than trying to see a GP, who may not be the best person to deal with a particular issue.
Patients have also described the CLP as a ‘lifesaver and fantastic support’ and ‘the most reliable and supportive person in my life right now’. Patients who have had previous input also know where to turn to if they ever need help again and are able to self-refer with ease.
As a GP Training Practice we have a very important role in shaping our future GPs. Our GP Trainers have commented that they are proud to train GPs fit for the future and to practice social medicine. A major part of that is down to having our very own CLP, working alongside the entire practice team.
In a time of crisis for GP recruitment and retention (BBC, 2023), the role of our full-time CLP helps protect the stability of our Practice and the wellbeing of our team so they can continue to deliver the best possible holistic care to our patients. Quite frankly, without our full-time CLP, the future for our practice and patients would be very bleak. This would cause a great threat to the stability of our practice and the care our patients receive as well as directly going against the Scottish Governments’ longer term commitments of tackling health inequalities and integrating health and social care (Scottish Government, n.d.).
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