The Primary Care Skills Academy found as part of Lakeside Healthcare Group challenges that were difficult to overcome.

After a series of discussions and meetings the following questions kept arising , How do we support our Nursing and Allied Healthcare Professionals in career progression across Primary Care?

This may sound a very simple answer however it hasn’t been as easy to solve.
Training can be costly, time can be difficult to free up, appraisals can be skipped, good managers may not be great coaches. These challenges add to existing upheavals of taking hours to arrange all your paperwork for CQC revalidation or keeping hold of your training dates so you are compliant in a number of mandatory requirements or even finding a course ran by your local training HUB that is relevant and funded.

Taking everything into consideration and having the ability to research these ongoing challenges across a large number of practices we were able to identify a solution, make it a reality that is going to support all Nursing, AHP’s, Practitioners and Practices with compliance, time, a focus on development and the opportunity for career progression.

The platform considers how we can make our practices and managers life’s easier, so we have designed clear reportage across the team on CPD progression, appraisal dates and crucially a report across your teams of where there are clinical skills and gaps.

This will not only allow gaps in patient care to be solved it will allow you to view which of your team have expressed an interest in training or upskilling in particular disciplines. For the users, the clinicians they will have a digital CPD portfolio, gone are the days we you have a bulging lever arch file of paperwork and certificates. You will also have access to any training expiration dates that need to be renewed allowing you to prepare in advance.

You will be able to upload your most recent appraisal and set a date for your annual or 6-month review. The most important thing here is to have this information at a touch of a button to ensure you continue to focus on the objectives you and your manager set.

By taking the skills assessment this will allow you to understand through a live report where you are highly skilled in clinical disciplines and the interest you have in particular areas. These are your training needs and should be shared with your manager. By capturing this data for practices, PCN’s and CCG’s is going to benefit workforce transformation as Primary Care continues to evolve with new and exciting roles as well as capturing key training needs which are pivotal to training HUB’s seeking funding towards CPD training.

We have identified that finding a course may not be the simplest of exercises, so we have vowed to spend time searching high and low with training HUB’s Federations and training experts to show you what is available, where in one place with some east filter options to help you identify easily. The filter will even allow you to search for funded and free courses available to you. Unsure if you can make a date of a course, then just add it to your wish list and come back to it later.

We at the PCSA online are not here to reinvent the wheel, but have created a product which will hopefully make life a little easier, when planning for the future. Our next step will be to continually improve the service through open feedback from our users and provide eLearning content and webinars to help you on your continuous journey.

Covid-19 has led to a huge shift in the way we consult with our patients. Before the pandemic, 90% of patient contacts took place face-to-face.

That situation is now reversed with telephone, text-based and (to a lesser extent) video being used for over 80% of consultations in Primary Care.

As the pandemic subsides it is unlikely that the situation will revert to pre-Covid levels. Remote consultations are going to be a big part of our clinical lives for the foreseeable future. This is not all bad. As the Centre for Health Communication Research states:

“barriers which have been in place for years, preventing things like online communications, rapidly fell away when the lockdown kicked in”.

1 Those barriers arguably held back progress, denying patients access to the convenience and potentially empowering effects of remote consultations. This is not to say that face-to-face interactions with patients are going away – they will still have a vitally important place in primary care.

Certain conditions can only be fully assessed by the laying on of hands and whilst it is possible to express empathy by remote technology, sometimes the human touch is the only way to soothe a troubled patient.

To adjust to this new reality, we need to think about how we complete these consultations effectively.

Many of the communication skills needed for a good face-to-face consultation are transferable – the way you introduce yourself, build rapport and ask questions are all very similar. There are some important differences though and understanding these can help to reduce your stress as well as improve outcomes for patients.

There are ethical implications too – an estimated 9 million people in the UK lack the basic digital skills to use the internet effectively, with 7% of the population not using the internet at all. 2 Ensuring the “digitally excluded” are provided for in this new world is essential if this particularly vulnerable group are not going to be left behind.

As a good starting point, it is important to ensure that you are using the right communication method for the scenario you are dealing with. Some consultations (e.g., handling of test results) are easily dealt with by text message, others (such as mental health issues) are not. Use your gut instinct. If it feels wrong to be consulting with the patient remotely, it probably is. Be prepared to revert to face-to-face even if it creates inconvenience for you or colleagues.

We will be covering these issues and some of the key skills required for remote consultations in our Remote Consultation Skills for Primary Care half-day course. There will be an opportunity to role-play telephone, video and text-based consultations and receive expert feedback. Top tips and helpful resources will also be provided. Book your place on PCSA Online.

1) Nichols B, Underwood J, Hollings J. The Rapidly Changing NHS. Communication in the age of coronavirus. 2020.
(2) Lloyds Bank. Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index 2020. 2020 21/05/:1-98.

Photo credit: FORTEPAN / Wirthmann Julianna, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons