Primary care workers adapting to changing patient needs

01 Mar 2023

Primary care now offers a wider range of services than ever before. With the help of better technology and a diverse team of healthcare professionals, the workforce is evolving to meet the changing needs of patients. This means primary care workers need to be flexible, responsive and able to do many different tasks.

Receptionists are the most visible members of the primary care workforce. They work under a lot of pressure, and are the first point of contact for patients. Gina Medlen is the Reception Lead at Northumberland Health Medical Practice in Bexley. She has worked there for 30 years and has seen a lot of changes.

“When I started at Northumberland Health Medical Centre in 1993, there were only two reception staff and two GPs. We had no computers, just a big appointment book. It was different then. We now have ten receptionists, healthcare assistants, nurse practitioners, prescribing clerks, clinical pharmacists, care co-ordinator, finance and business manager. We serve over 15,000 people now, compared to 8,500 before. The pressure has increased.”

Gina remembers the Covid-19 pandemic and how it made it necessary for practices to be more flexible and use new technology.

“During Covid, our doors never closed. Our phones did not stop ringing, and it was a totally different way of life, relying on telephone and online consultations. Doctors had to work offsite doing telephone triage, and nurses couldn’t do all of their duties, only the most important ones, but we battled through and survived.”

Primary care workers are adapting to meet the changing needs of patients. Practices are using new technology to support remote consultations and make administrative tasks easier. This means healthcare professionals can focus on delivering high-quality care. As the primary care sector continues to evolve, the workforce will need to remain flexible and responsive, to ensure they can meet the needs of patients both now and in the future