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Causeway GP Federation Newsletter - November 2022


General Practice remains under significant pressure throughout Northern Ireland and Causeway is no different. It is incredibly important that as a Federation we continue to work together for the collective good of our patients and indeed for each other and the stability of our Practices.

Unfortunately, as we have no functioning Government and with the financial constraints that is putting on the system, we have been unable to achieve any further progress with completion of our MDT . This is frustrating but we continue to be abreast of all developments. In being proactive we have undertaken an exercise looking at our SW skill mix and presenting this to the Trust and Dept. We hope that if they accept the merits of the model we have a better chance of completion in the near future.

There a number of events organised by SW and Mental Health teams in community promoting the work and also important issues for our community particularly at this difficult time. Your support for these is welcome and certainly they are happy for your patients to be directed here. There are a number of projects which we are looking at and possibly will develop Business plans for, Wound Management service, Spirometry service and community-based Heart Failure service amongst them. There are a number of variables within these that may or may not become feasible, but we continue to work through along with Trust and Departmental colleagues.

We continue to hope for better times ahead but in the meantime if there is anything within our power to do to assist, please do not hesitate to contact

Dr Johnny Burns

Chair Causeway GP Federation



The Causeway AGM will be held on Tuesday 8th November at 7.30pm for Director Members via Zoom.


MDT Senior Mental Health Practitioners

Jane Reynolds Mental Health Manager

The Senior Mental Health Practitioners have had a busy few months over the summer focusing on developing their skills in brief interventions related to Cognitive Behavioural skills for depression via SPIRIT training and an online Lifestyle Prescribing course facilitated by Dr Rangan Chattergee. We continue to strive to promote resilience building and early intervention and prevention regarding mental and emotional wellbeing across all our communities and have been working closely with our colleagues in the C&V sector to ensure good provision to meet needs within local areas.

The team marked World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2022 by dressing in yellow for young people’s mental health or purple to promote global mental health parity and some of the practitioners braved the wilds of the North Coast half marathon to raise money for Aware on a wet and windy Saturday morning in October. Your incredible efforts, commitment and determination have raised £855 to promote mental wellbeing! You're all stars!

Free Mental Health Themed public talks

We are planning a series of free mental health themed public talks, in conjunction with a number of C&V partners and our MDT colleagues form Social Work and Physiotherapy, over the next few months looking at positive mental health, managing worries related to money and the importance of play for children’s mental health and we are excited to see the developments these bring.

We continue to lobby and advocate for primary care with regard to the lack of low and higher intensity talking therapies and the significant wait for psychological therapies intervention in our area and the issue around referrals for assessment for ADHD in adults and will keep the practices informed as to any progress.

We wish you all a happy and healthy rest of 2022 and look forward to working with you all in the coming months and years to develop mental health in primary care.


General Practice Pharmacists

There has been a lot of change within the GPP team over the last six months. Sadly, we lost Adrian McErlean and Lucy McNie; both have returned to working in community pharmacy. We had a brief interlude with Diarmaid Graham, who moved on to Antrim Ballymena Federation as it is closer to home. We are, however, delighted to have four new pharmacists on our team: Sharon Johnston, Karen Boyle, Sarah McBride and Sarah Laverty. We also welcome Karina Duffy back from maternity leave and congratulate Leona Quinn on the birth of her beautiful baby Caitlin on 10/9/22!

Seven of the GPPs completed and successfully passed their Foundation Programme in June. Congratulations everyone! They have now started their Independent Prescribing qualification. We appreciate that this involves a lot of work for the GPPs and a lot of time out of practice but this is an essential requirement for the job and, all being well, will be complete by the end of April 2023. Thank you to all of the practices involved for all of your help and support in the professional development of our GPPs!

I am currently working through annual appraisals with each of the GPPs and have just finished our Federation Action plan. I have shared this with the GPPs so that they can use this to develop their own Practice Action Plans to fulfil this requirement of the GPP NILES. As always, I am happy to help with this if needed, particularly for overspent practices. As we come to the end of a very turbulent year for the Causeway GPP team, here’s hoping for a more settled, happy and healthy New Year!

Donna Campbell, Lead GP Pharmacist


PBL - Federation Education

PBL continue to strive to deliver high quality updates and teaching for all Members of our multi-disciplinary Teams. We engage with all our Leads on issues of training for their teams as well as delivering essential teaching such as navigational training, child protection etc as well as clinical update and changes within undergraduate teaching. The aim is to make updates relevant current and local to practice needs. Funding continues to be a concern and has been highlighted at the executive committee. We continue to depend on and thank pharma for supporting us, however, a review of the current budget will be required before the number of PBL sessions for 2022/ 2023 can be delivered.

Care Navigation - Reminder

Susan Gallagher Education Facilitator & Dr O Kane GP Education Lead


MDT - First Contact Therapists

First Contact Physiotherapy – Suzanne Kennedy Consultant Physiotherapist

The past few months have seen the full complement of First Contact Physiotherapists within all 18 practices, which is a great achievement. However, things never stand still and we have some staff moving on so it is back out to recruit again. The good news is permanent funding has been secured for all staff in post which makes the recruitment process much easier.

FCP consultations have continued with a blended approach but with an increasing amount being face to face 73% and 27% virtual. Activity this quarter has been down slightly due to annual leave over the summer and unfortunately some sick leave.

Staff continue to develop their advanced practice skills and most have started to prescribe albeit with a very limited formulary. A few staff are just finishing off the NMP training. All nonmedical prescribing is monitored regularly but this is complicated by the inaccuracies of the compass reports being pulled.

Since all the practices now have FCP staff, I have been liaising with practice managers to help integrate staff into the practices, to assist with referral signposting, to provide clarity around their role as a first contact musculoskeletal specialist whilst highlighting they are not a practice-based treatment physiotherapist. I am happy to continue my visits to any practice so please contact me anytime.

The patient satisfaction survey for the FCP service is now completed with 122 responses received and feedback remains excellent, we have maintained 100% of service users recommending the service the family and friends. A full report is available on request.

The MDT leads are collaborating to explore ways to improve the health and wellbeing of the local population in the Causeway Federation. We are looking to address physical, mental and social aspects and welcome any suggestions.


MDT - Social Work

Alex Larsen – MDT Social Work Lead

It’s a delight to see the Social Workers and assistants become more embedded both in the GP practices and local communities offering direct, across the age range, support and services to patients and work in partnership with their community and voluntary sector colleagues developing and delivering new services.

The increasing numbers of practice referrals to social work evidence a greater understanding of the social work role. I am sure the excellent training received via the PBL event looking at the development of the care navigator’s role will further enhance patients MDT experience in their practice.

That delight however is tempered by the knowledge that there remains a significant number of practices who are receiving no Social Work support, either within the practice for patients presenting with difficulties of a social nature (and measuring the number who present in social work established practices, there are many), or developing preventative services within the community. My message to those practices is that we are making efforts to offer alternatives to be able to offer some social work support to those communities.

On a brighter note, the following social work led community-based seed funded projects are currently being offered and further developed, all of which have a community and voluntary group partner. Carers support group in Coleraine with scores of members recently highlighted in local Coleraine press in partnership with COAST; an equine facilitated learning group for young people with Mental Health concerns in Coleraine in partnership with the Riding for the Disabled Association; friendship support group for Ukrainian children fleeing conflict linking them with local children and supporting them come to terms with the separation, loss and trauma experienced; a partner emotional support group for Ukrainian women both in partnership with the Zachary Geddis organisation; the Causeway Neurodiversity Support Group which is a Causeway wide project being developed in partnership with the Compass Advocacy Network; additional services relating to this group include specific additional parenting support groups for those meeting the needs of those with Neurodiverse needs in Garvagh and Coleraine. These are some of the new projects launched since the May newsletter. The existing mens shed/community garden group in Garvagh continues to go from strength to strength as the widow/widower group in Coleraine. There are a significant number of small walking groups, tea/coffee morning groups, luncheon clubs quietly going about their business bringing warmth, companionship and company for many who would have experienced loneliness and isolation previously.

Finally, some work has gone into Financial Crisis community-based workshops in partnership with other agencies to offer some assistance to our communities during these economically challenging times, impacting most on those already most in need. There will also be a greater focus on developing ‘warm places’ for folk to drop into for warmth and a little food.

As Social Work MDT, we look in the coming months to further develop and enhance our relationships with the community and voluntary sector in developing preventative services hence reducing the need for community members requiring to visit their GP practice. I will share some of that progress in the next newsletter!



We can support you!

If your Practice Manager/Practice have any ideas/Projects/suggestions that you feel might be beneficial for NFSU to research which may be of benefit of several practices in the Federation, please share with us. We may be able to assist.

Contact Naomi Hutchinson or 02896208333.


Over the past 6 months, the Federation Support Unit based at Galgorm Castle has been expanding. We welcomed two new members of the team - Naomi Hutchinson Project Coordinator and Carol Shaw HR administrator.

On Friday, the Northern Federation hosted its 5th Strategy Planning afternoon at Galgorm, Ballymena. In recent months the Northern Federation Support team, led by Non-Executive Board Member, John Armstrong, have worked in partnership with a team of federation colleagues and general practice stakeholders to develop a values framework that will be the foundation block for us to realise our purpose of Enabling Better General Practice.

The innovative work we have undertaken in this area is now beginning to take shape and we are very excited for the future of the Federation, it’s potential to thrive and provide an even better workplace for our employees whilst growing strong connections with our General Practice colleagues to deliver high quality health care for the patients within our local communities

We are passionate about what we do and the people we do it for and we look forward to making our plans a reality!

The NFSU Team are happy to help our Member Practices with any queries or questions you might have, just give us a call or drop us an email :)

Unit 29 The Courtyard, Galgorm Castle


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