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The Primary Care Navigator

February 14, 2017


The primary care navigator offers an additional solution to the problem of capacity within primary care. Due to multiple factors, there is a diminishing GP workforce. The existing primary care workforce model has a disproportionately heavy reliance on GPs. A typical GP set-up may include a complement of GPs, one practice nurse, one HCA and a receptionist. To build resilience in this model, additional and alternative methods must emerge. A multi- faceted approach is required which may include pharmacists, paramedics, social workers and the primary care navigator.


What is a primary care navigator?


The primary care navigator is a non-clinical staff member in a frontline patient facing role. He/she has sound knowledge of local services and providers and understands how to access and sign- post to services. He/she is aware of current locality initiatives, including prevention initiatives and able to offer this information to patients/ service users. The primary care navigator is an expert facilitator and co-ordinator.


So how does this help with capacity?


Care navigation is all about sign-posting, but it goes beyond this. The care navigator is well positioned to support the remainder of the team, boosting capacity by picking up duties which free up clinical time. The emergence of the care navigator role also offers a new and exciting option of career progression for GP administrative staff, who may have otherwise left primary care. As the role matures, the care navigator is able to make brief assessments of client need and recognise emergencies. They could manage a stable case load of high ED attenders and proactively liaise with patients and families, follow up outstanding referrals, organise and facilitate meetings, proactively signpost to relevant local services.

The care navigator works within a network and between multiple organisations, but with this comes a unique skill set which is currently being defined.


Primary Care Navigator Pilot


With funding from HEE south London, the Richmond CEPN is currently testing a set of core competencies for the primary care navigator. Whilst the pilot programme comprises of a mixed model of education; at its core is the understanding that true care navigation develops at locality level. It is all about local knowledge of people and services which no single course can teach. It takes a certain kind of dynamic and proactive individual to go beyond the remit of the job description, drawing on highly advanced interpersonal skills to engage andcreatively problem solve. And, it takes a certain kind of practice willing to support innovation and willing to use staff differently.


Interested in finding out more?



The Patient Liaison Officer: a new role in UK, by Tavabie JA, Tavabie M, General

Practice.. Quality in Primary Care 2013:21(5):303-313 2 http://primarycare.imedpub.com/the-patient-liaison-officer-a-new-role-in-uk-general- practice.pdf


The Patient Liaison Officer in UK General Practice: Co-ordinating Care for Housebound Patients, Tavabie JA, Tavabie SA, Quality in Primary Care 2015;23(4): 286-291 http://primarycare.imedpub.com/the-patient-liaison-officer-in-uk-general-practice- coordinating-care-for-housebound-patients.pdf


Supporting integration through new roles and working across boundaries by Helen Gilbert, Kings Fund, 30th June 2016 http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/supporting-integration-new-roles-boundaries

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