‘Fantastic’ Cornerstone GP practice in March shortlisted in Carer Friendly Health Care Awards finals

Cornerstone practice March, from left Dr Wendy Harrison, Sarah Fox and Ellie Buckton

Cornerstone practice March, from left Dr Wendy Harrison, Sarah Fox and Ellie Buckton - Credit: Archant

The Cornerstone GP practice in March, believed to be the only one in Fenalnd to have a dedicated member of staff working with carers, has been shortlisted in the Carer Friendly Health Care Awards.

Judges praised the practice for prioritising identifying carers early and launching a carers group, which is run by newly appointed patient liaison officer Ellie Buckton.

They also described Cornerstone as “a fantastic model for a health organisation” that “stands out from the field by going the extra mile to support carers”.

Practice manager Sarah Fox, who nominated the surgery for the award, said their focus on carers came about to overcome the difficulties of being one GP short. She said they needed to think of different cost-effective ways to keep services running smoothly.

Fifteen people turned up to their first carers group meeting last month, despite only expecting four to turn up.

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Ellie said: “When we initially decided to set this up we sent an email to see how people would respond and the response we got was quite immense. “That gave us the push we needed to do something about it.”

When a patient is diagnosed with dementia, Ellie calls them to ask who cares for them, and when patients over 65 are discharged from hospital, Ellie calls them to ask who is their primary carer so they can be supported too.

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The Alzheimer’s Society visits the surgery weekly to meet patients with dementia and their carers. The surgery also provides counselling and support for adults and young people suffering from mental health problems.

The surgery has been supported by Care Network in creating its new carers group and has compiled a carers pack for its newly identified carers, providing information about help and support available.

Sarah said: “There are different sorts of practice managers; there are those that come in and pay bills, and those that see their practice as something else.

“The way the NHS is at the moment, to keep a general practice going you have to reinvent yourself and the services you provide.”

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