About Primary Care Department

The Primary Care Department is an integral part of HEE Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS). The region is a densely populated part of the South East benefiting from close proximity to London, good rail links and several areas of outstanding natural beauty including a long and ever-changing coastline.

The Primary Care Department exists to support and lead the recruitment and retention of the entire multi-professional primary care workforce, including doctors, nurses and the increasing range of allied health professionals joining the primary care workforce in recent times. Our vision is to ensure that not only is there sufficient supply of health professionals now and in the future, but also that primary care in KSS is the best place to work.

The HEE KSS Primary Care Department is led by Professor Christopher Warwick, who is supported by an amazing team of dedicated educators and administrators. By combining active clinical roles with their educational activity, almost all of the team remain connected to patients on a regular basis, aware of how important understanding of the current pressures in practice can be.

To find out more about the entire Primary Care team, please visit our team webpage.

Structure of the Primary Care Department

HEE KSS GP School covers the geographical areas of Kent, Surrey and Sussex looking after a population of 5.2 million; served by 4,000 GPs, three Integrated Care Systems (ICS), three ICS level Training Hubs, ten Integrated Care Partnership/Locality Training Hubs, ten Acute Hospital Trusts and three Mental Health Trusts.

Within the Primary Care Department there are two schools. The GP School is concerned with supporting GP training; and the newly inaugurated Primary Care School oversees the work of the Primary Care Training Hubs to support the multi-professional workforce, as well as the post-CCT medical workforce.

GP School

Dr Liz Norris is Head of the School of General Practice across KSS and Deputy Primary Care Dean. She is supported in this role by Professor Warwick, Primary Care Dean, and overall responsibility for the quality of education and training rests with the Regional Postgraduate Dean, Professor Graeme Dewhurst. Working with them is a large team of educators and administrators who deliver excellent training to our GP trainees.

There are 11 GP Specialty Training Programmes (formerly Vocational Training Schemes) in the GP School supported by over 50 GP training programme directors. There are nearly 500 GP trainers within the GP School, who at any one time are supporting about 920 GP specialty trainees in both their hospital and GP placements. Each county is supported by two patch associate GP deans.

The GP Specialty Training Programmes are individual geographically based subsets of the GP School. In their configuration, some of these reflect the change in organisation of the local Acute Hospital Trusts and are thus larger than others, but many programmes have increasingly close working relationships with their neighbours.

GP School support structure

GP Specialty trainees have the support of a Clinical Supervisor (CS) during their hospital attachments and also have an Educational Supervisor (ES) – also known as a GP Trainer. The Clinical Supervisor will ensure that appropriate clinical experience is available for trainees, congruent with the developmental needs of the trainee with reference to the GP curriculum and patient safety. They will also be responsible for supervising workplace-based assessments. The Educational Supervisor will facilitate meetings with trainees for whom they are responsible and support their learning and development and assessments in line with the GP curriculum.

GP placements are undertaken in practices approved for GP training purposes. In a similar way to hospital placements, trainees will be supported by both a CS and an ES. However, if they are attached to a practice that has one or more GP trainers, the Trainer will undertake both roles. If the attachment is in a practice that has GPs trained for the role of CS, the ES can be a GP Trainer in a nearby practice.

Each GP Specialty Training Programme will be supported by a Local Faculty Group (LFG). LFGs are chaired by the Patch Associate GP Dean and has membership drawn from local GP trainers, GP training programme directors and trainee representatives.

In line with national policy, KSS GP trainees are spending increasing proportions of their 36-month training programmes in GP placements. From August 2022, all new recruits to KSS GP training programmes will spend 24 months in GP placements. Programmes are currently in a transition process towards this aim.

Primary Care School and Training Hubs

HEE KSS has been involved in Training Hub development since its inception, with some of the earliest precursors – Community Education Provider Networks – flourishing in the region. Now adopted as the vehicle of choice by HEE and NHS England & Improvement (NHSE/I), the Primary Care School exists to oversee and quality manage the Training Hubs and educational activity for the entire workforce – student and qualified, with the specific remit of supporting recruitment and retention. The work of the Training Hubs requires close collaboration between HEE, NHSE/I and ICSs, with the Primary Care School providing the educational and quality governance for their activity.

Professor Kim Stillman is founding Head of Primary Care School for KSS, and leads a team of Clinical Leads / Associate Deans who are a group of working clinicians with an interest and qualifications in primary care education and its management. Their work leads the educational networks in their local areas, including the team of GP tutors based in localities. There is more information about the Training Hubs on their webpages.

We would be pleased to hear your views on the primary care website and would also like to hear from you if you feel there are areas we should improve on or have missed. Please email the CPD team.