Advanced Practitioners: transforming pathways of care
Advanced Practitioners (APs) are healthcare professionals who undertake additional educational study, to Master’s degree or equivalent, to provide them with further skills and a wider scope of practice within their specialism.
Across Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 66 APs provide a practice that is designed to transform and modernise pathways of care, whilst also enabling the safe and effective sharing of key clinical skills.
APs are a growing workforce group in the Trust, having more than doubled since 2015. Whilst traditionally nursing staff developed in advanced practice, the Trust is empowering clinical colleagues from a range of backgrounds to become an AP, with one third of the workforce made up of Allied Health Professionals in roles such as physiotherapy and paramedic science.
In fact, the Trust’s Dietitian AP is one of the first in the south west, and we currently have APs working across the acute hospital, visiting patients out in the community and in primary care.
Alongside providing an extra specialist level of care to patients, our APs are always looking at how they can improve services and introduce innovative projects to better the patient experience. Some of the initiatives supported by APs include:
First contact physiotherapy (FCP) set up across primary care to provide a quality service that has seen 80% of patients managed and discharged under the team.
A virtual ward, which has reduced community admissions to hospital by 30% and is now a service dedicated to gold standards of care.
The Hospital @ Night team, who have reduced the time that deteriorating patients are seen by a clinical practitioner.
AP physiotherapists in the Emergency Department who effectively assess patients with frailty in the first instance, which has saved clinical hours, reduced duplication of work and ensures continuity of care for every patient.
We are also really pleased that funding from Health Education England has also been awarded to 11 trainee APs across the Trust, to offer them Masters level Advanced Practice programmes.