Primary care services are the first point of contact in the healthcare system, acting as the ‘front door’ of the NHS. This could be your local pharmacy or GP practice – and there are teams of healthcare professionals who can help you at each place.
Your local community pharmacist is a trained medical professional who can guide you on the best treatment for a wide range of illnesses and minor ailments. They are specialists in the use of medicines, and a source of expertise and advice.
You can visit a pharmacy without making an appointment, and several pharmacies in the city are open until late evening and on Sundays.
If you have a cough, cold, sore throat, ear ache, upset stomach or teething troubles – consider going to a local pharmacy before contacting your GP practice.
Our 12 GP practices in Portsmouth come together in five Primary Care Networks (PCNs) to share resources and provide better care for patients.
PCNs have teams of healthcare professionals who offer more specialist support, which might mean that instead of seeing a GP, you are referred to another member of the team who are more appropriate to help. This might mean that you’ll be seen more quickly and by someone who can offer their expert support and advice.
There are many roles at a GP practice including physiotherapists, pharmacists, paramedics, dieticians, social prescribers, and more. You can find out more about the roles below.
See more videos of primary care healthcare professionals on our Health and Care Portsmouth Vimeo channel.
“When you contact your GP practice to make an appointment you will be asked some questions which are designed to help staff guide you to the most appropriate clinical person to help. Our teams are experts in their areas and will give you the best care they can.”
Simon Cooper, Director of Primary Care for Portsmouth
Here are just some of the faces and roles you might see in your team of healthcare professionals at your GP practice:
Advanced Nurse Practitioners are educated at Masters Level in clinical practice and have been assessed as competent in practice, using their expert clinical knowledge and skills. They have the freedom and authority to act, making autonomous decisions in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of patients.
A care coordinator is a trained health professional that helps to support people’s care. They offer a range of support such as monitoring and coordinating treatment plans, help educate people about their condition, connect people with services, and evaluate people’s progress.
The first point of contact when you call your GP Practice, teams of Care Navigators or Patient Advisors will ensure you get the right care, from the right person at the right time. Providing them with brief information means they can signpost you accordingly. This can save you time if an appointment is not needed or there are other services that can also support your needs. For example, other members of the practice team or community services.
Undertake medication reviews for patients with complex, long-term needs and helping them to manage their conditions. They can also help with medication enquiries and prescriptions, supporting the repeat prescription system, dealing with acute prescription requests, and providing expertise in clinical medicines advice and medicines optimisation.
Experts in nutrition. They work with patients to alter their diets based on their medical condition and individual needs. Dietitians advise people and help them make informed and practical choices about their food and nutrition. This could include people with digestive problems, those who want to lose weight, or who need to put on weight after an illness, or people with an eating disorder or a food allergy.
Usually physiotherapists with enhanced skills that can help patients with issues such as back, neck and joint pain. By making it easier for patients to see a physiotherapist, they will have quicker access to diagnosis and treatment, helping them to manage their conditions more effectively and recover faster, so they can get back to normal life quickly. GPs will often refer patients to physios as they are often the best clinician to deal with certain issues.
Involved in most aspects of patient care such as obtaining blood samples, minor and complex wound management, travel health advice and vaccinations, child immunisations and advice, family planning and women’s health, men’s health screening, sexual health services, smoking cessation and screening. GP nurses may also have direct supervision of healthcare assistants.
Treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. They focus on the health of the whole person, combining physical, psychological and social aspects of care. GPs are part of a much wider team and often refer patients to other experts within the practice to provide specialist support for the patients’ needs.
Health and wellbeing coaches engage with people to support them in taking an active role in their health, by providing advice and support. They take a holistic approach, helping people to identify difficulties or issues in all areas of their life and helping them find solutions and lifestyle changes that mean they can lead happy and fulfilled lives. Health and wellbeing coaches can also play a key role in helping to tackle health inequalities.
Help to bridge the gap between healthcare support workers and registered nurses to deliver hands-on care as part of the nursing team. They allow nurses to focus on more complex clinical work. Nursing associates work with people of all ages and in a variety of settings.
Work with people who have difficulties carrying out various day-to-day activities because of disability, illness, trauma, ageing, and a range of long-term conditions. They help people to get on with their every-day activities and stay in their own homes by providing adaptations.
Work in a variety of roles within a general practice. Their background in pre-hospital care means that they are used to working with people with a variety of health conditions from coughs and minor injuries to more serious conditions such as asthma and heart attacks. They work alongside GPs and help manage routine or urgent appointments, telephone triage (assessment of urgency of illness or injury) and home visits.
Work alongside the clinical pharmacists and the wider practice team. They help with prescription and medication enquiries, providing safe and effective medicines optimisation as well as ensuring any hospital medication changes are up to date and accurate. They also support electronic repeat dispensing, allowing patients to receive several months of prescriptions at one time and therefore reducing the need for a patient to see a GP each time.
A clinical graduate who, while not a doctor, has the skills and knowledge to help diagnose and manage the treatment and care of patients, alongside the practice team, under the supervision of an experienced GP. They can provide extra capacity to help with continuity of patient care and help free up consultants to concentrate on more complex cases.
Sometimes people visit their practice for issues caused by non-medical things like loneliness, anxiety, debt and unemployment, where a medical prescription is not the best solution.
A social prescriber works with patients and their families to help them access a range of local community services that provide practical or emotional support and guidance of a non-medical nature.
This helps improve the health and wellbeing of people in the community and allows people to remain independent and live their best lives.
And some of the faces and roles you might see in your team of healthcare professionals at your pharmacy:
Pharmacists are responsible for dispending and supplying prescription medicines. They sell over-the-counter medical products, instruct people on using medicines, and provide advice and information to maintain and improve people’s health.
Assistants help Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians order, prepare and dispense medicines. They also help patients with their prescriptions and answer any questions they might have face-to-face or over the phone.
Pharmacy Technicians manage and prepare the supply of medicines, working under the supervision of a Pharmacist. They speak with patients and offer advice on how best to manage medicines.
Dispensers assist in the preparation and dispending of prescriptions, managing stock and ordering medicines as needed.
We are aware that staff in GP practices have experienced threatening behaviour and verbal abuse from some patients who might be finding it difficult to get an appointment or see a GP when they want to. This abuse is unacceptable.
Every doctor, nurse, GP, pharmacist and healthcare professional has the right to care for others without fear of being attacked or abused, and we support all of our Practices with a zero tolerance on abuse against NHS workers.
When you contact your GP practice to make an appointment, you will be asked some questions which are designed to help staff guide you to the most appropriate clinical person to help you with your condition. This could be a nurse, clinical pharmacist, physician’s associate, GP, paramedic or more.
Anyone who abuses or threatens our NHS colleagues will be asked to leave the Practice and the Police will be called.
To find out more about our GP practices in Portsmouth, visit our Primary Care webpage.