Category Archive News


Howbeck Healthcare Facilitates Board Development Day for West Lancashire GP Federation

Howbeck Healthcare was recently asked to facilitate a Board Development Day for West Lancashire GP Federation.  Mike Pyrah, Director of Howbeck Healthcare led this session with the aim of creating the right environment to enable the participants to reflect upon, and to provide constructive challenge, in order to determine the future direction for West Lancashire GP Federation.  The desired outcomes were:

  • To agree the Organisation Purpose and Strategic Direction for West Lancashire GP Federation,
  • To agree the actions to take in order to ‘make it happen’, with a particular focus on Organisational Effectiveness and Governance.

Testimonial from Helen Holmes-Fogg, Chief Executive of West Lancashire GP Federation

‘Mike provided insightful and considered facilitation of our Board Development Day. He was a positive disruptor with some words of wisdom. He challenged and focused the mind in an agile session.’ 


Update to the GP Contract Agreement 2020/2021 – 2023/2024

There are a lot of useful summaries of the GP Contract agreement already available, therefore rather than focus on what is included in the contract I wanted to concentrate on the likely impact on Practices, PCNs and GP Federations (or Networks of Networks).

To start with, it is worth considering what the Contract Agreement actually is:

• The annual amendment to the GMS Contract
• The year two plan PCN DES Specification
• The delivery plan for the NHS Long-term Plan

Looking at the three elements my observation is:

GMS Contract – For practices there are some significant new obligations (such as sharing their activity and workforce data) and some new service requirements. Interestingly on their own the incentives may not be sufficient to make the changes and requirements acceptable.

PCN DES – The contract is much more attractive to PCNs and removes lots of the significant barriers in the last version, most of the financial benefits are for the PCNs and some of these are required to be reinvested in services rather than in practices.

The NHS Plan – Some of the requirements have been set out as aspirations in previous documents (online access) others are new (50 million more appointments), and there is a mix of national and local actions (training more GPs etc).

Putting the three elements together my main observation is that there are some significant new obligations for practices whilst most of the financial benefits are for the PCNs, and some of these are required to be re-invested in services rather than into practices.

Download the full Update to the new Contract Agreement – February 2020.


Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship – International Forum, Copenhagen, April 2020

**** Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship – International Forum, Copenhagen, April 2020 ****

We are pleased to hear that the Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship Programme(led by North Staffordshire GP Federation and project managed by Lucy Minshull at Howbeck Healthcare), continues in the International spotlight.  The key findings from the evaluation of the Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship have been accepted for a poster presentation at the International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Copenhagen in April 2020. 

Dr Lizzie Cottrell, a local GP at Wolstanton Medical Centre and the lead evaluator, is delighted as this is an important and hot topic in primary care at the moment.  Physician Associates are not as established in some parts of Europe, so it is excellent to spread the news internationally about what we are learning about Physician Associates in primary care and to keep the successful Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship programme in the spotlight.


Tips on how to kick start your Primary Care Network (PCN)

An interesting read for all Primary Care Networks; written by the Lead Practice Manager of the SMASH PCN, of which Dr Neil Paul is also the Clinical Director.


Welcome to Primary Care Cheshire

Howbeck Healthcare is pleased to announce it will now be providing professional advice and support to Primary Care Cheshire (West Cheshire GP Federation); a network of 34 independent GP practices covering over 250,000 patients.


Useful resources for parents and carers of young children

CATCH is a free NHS Health App for parents and carers of children from pregnancy to age 5.  Commissioned by the Cheshire CCGs it brings together NHS approved advice and information in an easy to use and understand format.

The Little Orange Book, produced by Newcastle and Gateshead CCGs, is also full of information on acute illness in young children and helps parents and carers to recognise and then respond appropriately to a range of diseases, illness and conditions as well as signposting parents to the most appropriate service or clinician should they need further support.


The Physician Associates in Primary Care Conference, supported by Howbeck Healthcare, was a great success…

Physician Associates in Primary Care Conference

On the 13th June 2019, Howbeck Healthcare supported the first Physician Associate in Primary Care Conference at Keele Hall.

We had over 80 delegates attend both locally and nationally, ranging from GPs, Physician Associates, Practice Managers and senior managers from NHS England and HEE.

Pictured from the left: Elita Unyolo, PA; Alex Strivens-Joyce, PA & PA Ambassador; Lucy Minshull, Project Manager – Howbeck Healthcare; Karen Roberts, Guest Speaker, PA & Course Director at St George’s in London; Dr Sharon Turner, Clinical Lead and Dr Elizabeth Cottrell, NIHR Academic Clinical Lecturer from Keele University
The conference was very eventful. We were able to share and promote Physician Associates (PAs) playing a new and exciting role in supporting general practice along with having the PAs who have completed our pioneering Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship speaking on how they are supporting and working within general practice. The Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship has supported over 22 PAs on the programme.
We were able to highlight that the majority of PAs who had completed our internship have all been retained and are working full time in general practice. 98% of those delegates in attendance asked for a similar conference next year with further emphasis on presentations / workshops and networking. Watch this space!


“thanks for a great conference – spot on in terms of what I needed to know. Well worth the 4.5 hours in the car!”

“I feel this type of conference should be done again to help support the PA internship – a great afternoon with lots of useful info mentioned”

 “Great to hear both the GP/PA talks describing exactly how the role works in practice and what sort of tasks they do on a daily basis and how the PAs are developed as part of  primary care”


Howbeck Healthcare supports iGPc Network to create a development plan

Howbeck Healthcare were recently commissioned to support the iGPc Network, located in Liverpool, in creating a Development Plan for the Network for 2019 / 2020.  To undertake this, Howbeck Healthcare completed individual practice assessments to determine the individual practices hopes and aspirations for the Network followed by a facilitated iGPC Away Day for key staff to  focus on the determination of the iGPC Network priorities and organisational form to support them in doing this.


Howbeck are supporting North Staffordshire GP Federation with the first Physician Associates in Primary Care Conference on 13th June at Keele Hall, Staffordshire.

We have supported one of our GP Federations in Staffordshire to deliver the first of its kind in the country, the Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship to support the shortage of GPs.  The uniqueness of the internship is it offers PAs to work across both primary and secondary care with a half day teaching session each week.  19 PAs have undertaken the internship, with the majority of PAs completing the internship offered full time positions in primary care.   

The successes to date has been remarkable: RCGP endorsement; HSJ Values Award Finalist 2019; International paper submitted to WONCA (World Organisation for National Colleges and Academies for Global family doctors) for consideration and visits from national leaders and organisations from across the country.

Howbeck are sponsoring the first ever, Physician Associate in Primary Care Conference on the 13th June 2019 – 12.30 pm – 4.45pm at Keele University, in Staffordshire.  Places are limited. To book please download the Physician Associate in Primary Care Conference Poster

Download a copy of the Who are Physician Associates? information booklet.


Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship Programme shortlisted for ‘Primary Care Initiative of the Year’ HSJ award!

We are delighted to announce that the Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship Programme has been shortlisted for ‘Primary Care Initiative of the Year’ for the 2019 HSJ awards.

The Staffordshire Physician Associate Internship Programme is a locally developed internship for Physician Associates (PA) work across primary and secondary care, to determine whether a new model of workforce and skill mix is both sustainable and clinically effective.

This programme was developed to appoint 24 Physician Associates (PAs) offering a 1-year internship working across primary and secondary to offer solutions to the local and national GP workforce issues and to offer the best patient care across Staffordshire.  To date 22 PAs have been recruited over a 15-month timescale.