A SCHEME to reduce pressure on GPs and improve patient care has been launched.

About 7,000 surgeries across England have come together to form more than 1,200 primary care networks to deliver a wider range of specialist care services.

The scheme will see GP practices work together and recruit teams including pharmacists, physiotherapists and paramedics, with the aim of freeing up family doctors to focus on the sickest patients.

Amongst the primary care networks in East Lancashire are Burnley East Primary Care Network and Blackburn with Darwen Primary Care Network

Burnley East is made up of seven practices, including Yorkshire Street Practice, Prestige Medical Group, Burnley Wood Medical Practice, Briercliffe Surgery, Daneshouse Surgery, Thursby Surgery and Colne Road Surgery.

While Blackburn with Darwen is made up of 23 practices altogether including Hollins Grove Surgery, Brownhill Surgery and Witton Medical Centre.

Dr Fourie, of Witton Medical Centre in Blackburn, welcomed the scheme.

He said: “This will allow for practices to work together more effectively on things such as flu clinics and flu jabs in the winter.

“Hopefully it will ease pressure on individual GP practices.”

Anthony Leo, director of primary care and public Health for the NHS in the North West said: “Primary Care Networks allow the practices within them to think differently about the services they are offering to their patients.

“By working together, they can share the workload and ease pressure on the individual practice teams. As primary care networks develop, they will work closely with other health and social care partners and the wider system to offer better access to a wider range of joined-up services more quickly for people who need them most.””