You might have heard about Care Navigators in GP practices, but you might not know that much about them, or what they could do for you and your local practice.

What is a Care Navigator?

They are someone in a GP practice who can signpost people to local services. For example, if you called your GP with back pain for the first time, they might suggest visiting a physiotherapist first, or pharmacist for painkillers.

In these early stages, they are only doing one-off interventions. But there’s hope for them taking on more in the future. They could work closely with people to support them on an ongoing basis. There has also been talk of running group consultations for people struggling with similar issues.

Who are they?

A Care Navigator could be any member of staff in a practice, but currently mostly admin staff and receptionists. They have, however, been through some training. The Navigator training includes learning key health and wellness message and how to start a ‘health chat’. It also teaches what local charities and community groups are available for support.

Their training also looks at at why advice sometimes doesn’t work, the skills needed including listening, asking questions, giving feedback, emotional intelligence and avoiding conflict.

Where are they?

As of the 28th of February, we are only aware of a few Care Navigators in Bucks. They are at the Westongrove Partnership (Aston Clinic, Bedgrove Surgery, and Wendover Health Centre) and Hughenden Valley Surgery. If you would like to leave feedback about either of these practices, please click through to their pages.

How can they help?

Care Navigators are there to help you get to the help you really need faster. For example, the Operations and Development Manager, Sarah Walker said:

We had a patient who initially asked for a GP but actually needed help accessing Citizens Advice after he found himself homeless.

You can read her full article on the Care Navigators at Westongrove here.

In areas where there are more Care Navigators, the effects can be seen on a larger scale. South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw’s GP practices have trained 825 of their staff, and have seen great improvements in appointment wait times.

Blake Foster is the Practice Manager at the Chapel Green Practice in Sheffield. He said:

We reduced from a three week wait to a six day wait for a routine GP appointment within a three week period. It’s also broadened the understanding of the clinicians and the receptionists about the level of services that are available within the local area.

What do you think of this idea? Do you think people will find it helpful? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

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