General Practice Alert system (GPAS) - to be launched in September 2022
Hospital trusts use Operating Pressures Escalation Level (OPEL) to communicate their demand and capacity to the NHS systems. OPEL is used by the NHS system to identify where support is required in the short term, and where transformation is required in the long term.
General practice does not currently use an official OPEL system. Kent LMC have been working with the local NHS partners to better understand workload pressures in general practice and to develop an OPEL system which can accurately quantify the status of general practices. This system will be known as General Practice Alert System (GPAS).
GPAS will enable us to provide system partners with weekly reports that highlights describing the pressure that general practice in Kent and Medway is under. Practices provide a weekly measure of their workload demand and capacity, using a digital interface. We then use this data to provide an anonymised report to local NHS partners about the pressures in general practice for each HCP. This report does not allow outside agencies to identify practices which may be struggling but does highlight to the whole health and care system that help is required.
A recent article in GP Online describes how Devon LMC declared a county wide Red alert for general practice, and practices were supported to just focus on urgent care due to the impact of covid-19 on staff absence.
The GPAS report highlights what Alert State each practice is at, and can also indicate PCNs, localities, or areas where demand is excessive. The four Alert Status are
- Black: The practice is unable to provide safe care and there is a risk of service failure. Without intervention, it is likely the practice will be forced to close. The practice would be expected to declare this state to the commissioner and seek guidance from the LMC.
- Red: This indicates the practice is under severe pressure and although it may be able to run safely for a very limited period, immediate action is required to mitigate the situation. The GPs in the practice are continuously working beyond BMA recommended safe working limits and significant levels of patient demand cannot be met by the practice
- Amber: This indicates the practice is under moderate pressure. The practice is unable to fully meet patient demand or expectations. GPs in the practice are likely to be working beyond BMA recommended safe working limits meaning some patient demand cannot be met by the practice. This is unsustainable in the long term without action.
- Green: This implies low level of pressure; the practice is appropriately staffed and there is sufficient capacity to meet patient demand and expectations. GPs in the practice are working to BMA recommended safe working limits.
Kent LMC will soon be asking GP practices across Kent to provide simple data about workforce capacity, workload demand, and practice list size on a weekly basis so that we can generate a GPAS report weekly. These reports will be used to highlight where support is required in the short term and identify patterns where support is required in the medium to long term. We ask that you engage with this process as it will help articulate to our NHS the pressures which we are facing.