NHS England has appointed a specialist GP to encourage the spread of innovations that integrate health and social care throughout England.

Dorset GP Karen Kirkham is tasked with working with the wider GP community to instill tried and tested innovation and transformation techniques across the country.

Kirkham played a key role in setting up the Dorset Integrated Care System (ICS), under which a new approach to integration of care for patients has brought together staff from local hospitals, community staff, general practice and the local authorities “to pull the local health system together”.

Under the scheme, ‘virtual wards’, where doctors, nurses, social care staff, physios and other healthcare professionals discuss patients thought to be at risk of hospital admission, have reduced unplanned admissions to Dorset County Hospital, NHS England said.

“I’m passionate about doing things differently and in Dorset already we’ve shown how by using new models of care can we make the patient experience so much better,” Kirkham said, commenting on her appointment.

“As part of this new role I want to ensure high quality and sustainable general practice as a fundamental building block within ICS’ and develop population health analytics and management systems to provide the basis for intelligent decision making.”