Quality in Primary Care Open Access

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The patient liaison officer: a new role in UK general practice

Jacqueline A Tavabie, Marianne Tavabie

BackgroundThe population health needs of an ageing population, with increasing demands and opportunities for intervention, mean that the National Health Service (NHS) in theUnitedKingdom (UK) faces inevitable change. Maintaining traditional boundaries and professional roles is placing an unmanageable burden on the NHS and its workforce. Redesigning roles and developing capacity for integrated working across traditional boundaries of primary and secondary may provide ways of sustaining the health service whilst involving patients and carers in a community care model. AimsThis project explores development of a patient liaison officer (PLO) in general practice to support delivery of integrated community care for patients with complex health needs and long-term conditions. It seeks to improve communication and administrative functions between different care providers, and incorporate patient and carer voices in care planning and delivery. It supports the UK national agenda for increasing care in the community and identifies learning needs for this new workforce. It provides career evelopment opportunities for existing medical receptionists with potential to reduce administrative work for general practitioners (GPs). MethodA new role in general practice was developed hrough discussion and formal training based on identified key competencies of a liaison officer. Based in Bromley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in South London, UK, 39 of 46 possible practices were involved. Outcome measures included: the development of a new role; the design nd implementation of training, and evaluation of the participant; and teacher and observer feedback, including post-training focus groups, using thematic analysis. Results and conclusions Positive uptake and feedback indicated significant potential for developing this role. Investment in implementation may facilitate the achievement of improvements in healthcare and new Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) targets through better co-ordinated care. Future evaluation will include patient surveys and measures of impact on avoidable hospitalisation for vulnerable patients, and GP feedback on whether time has been released for new clinical work through reduction in administration carried out by PLOs.