Surgery Update 28 July 2022

Sorry – it’s along one, but please take a moment to note the content.

Patient Participation Group

We are keen to recruit more members to our Patient Participation Group (PPG). Our PPG currently has 10 members, but we are keen to grow this, and even more keen to make it more representative of our patient population. We want to get to the stage where all ages and ethnic groups are represented.

A survey in Hertfordshire and West Essex has shown the following demographics in the PPGs within that area – and it is just not representative of our local communities…please come forward to have your voice heard. See further below why it’s important.

  • 70% are over 65
  • 60% female
  • 6% LGBT
  • 82% white British
  • 23% disabled
  • 92% homeowners
  • 1 person under 25
  • 1 person is homeless
  • 1 person is a gypsy traveller

It is now more important than ever for patients to get involved. GP surgeries are underfunded, and the months and years to come will see huge changes imposed on us that will directly affect the services available to our patients. We need your support to fight for your NHS – please join our PPG.

What’s required?

We need a little bit of your time, and we need your thoughts and opinions. Working in a spirit of mutual respect, openness and trust, all patients’ views will be discussed and, where appropriate, we will work together on solutions. We value our patient’s ideas and issues – we don’t just meet about problems; we meet to discuss solutions.

We meet once every 2-3 months (we tend to alternate evening and daytime meetings). The surgery is always represented at these meetings. Not all meetings need to be attended by PPG members, although it is very much appreciated.

If you want to join us, please email our PPG chair Mrs Janice McDonald at [email protected]

 Alternatively, you can leave your name with our Reception Team, and we will pass it on to Janice.

Demand vs Capacity at the surgery

This is a complex subject, please take a moment to read…

We understand that patients are still frustrated with not being able to directly book appointments face to face with a GP at the surgery, or that the wait for a prebooked telephone appointment is between 2 and 3 weeks. Please be assured that we see patients face to face every day, but still ask patients who phone the surgery to 1st be triaged over the phone by a GP, Advanced Nurse Practitioner or Physicians Associate. The clinician will then make a clinical decision on a need for a face-to-face appointment.

I have today completed an audit on our workload, looking back to Jan 2022. The overarching issue is still that we do not have enough clinicians to cover the demand for appointments. The only way to overcome this without more clinicians, is to triage all patient requests for GP access over the phone in the 1st instance, to establish clinical need. This way, we can ensure that all patients get clinical input on the day, based on clinical need.

Our surgery, (EXCLUDING our direct lines to prescriptions/secretaries/medico-legal/management) receives an average of 424 calls a day. Mondays are by far the busiest on the phones, and Wednesdays the quietest. According to the British Medical Association, GPs work safely if they have 25 patient contacts in the morning, and 25 in the afternoon. Our GPs average far above that…at least double, and on busy days even more. Then, on top of that, they must review and sign prescriptions, complete referrals, read and action clinical letters, do medical reports, the list is endless. We have Phase 5 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme looming, which will increase phone and footfall traffic to the surgery.

We sympathise with how difficult it is to be a patient within the NHS. All our staff are patients at a surgery too, and most bigger surgeries are in the same boat. The abuse of surgery staff is increasing again, and we will not tolerate this. Please be kind to our staff, and keep in mind the tremendous pressure they work under. It is not their fault that we can’t afford more clinicians, and they manage our appointment book according to the wishes of the GP Partners and Surgery Management.

Please do not be fooled by what you read in the media. The reality within GP Practices is much different from what you see in the media, and we are all still on our knees. GP Surgeries services as we know from a few years ago is no longer something we can provide. Dwindling funding and an increased population makes that impossible, and we are still feeling like we are being set up to fail, so it can be used as evidence to impose huge changes in our services we give to patients. There are many more enforced changes coming our way over the next few months and years, which is why we need Patient Participation… hence the call for new members above.

We would love to be able to recruit more GPs, but we simply do not have the funding. We currently have 4 GP Partners, and 3 salaried GPs. We simply can not afford any additional GPs.

One area where we do have some funding to help us, is within the Additional Roles Scheme, which forms part of the Primary Care Network Contract. This is the contract we share with Elsenham, Eden, John Tasker House and Angel Lane surgeries. Within this contract, we have funding available to recruit very specific roles, and share them pro-rata between the 5 surgeries, according to our list sizes. As a Primary Care Network, we have successfully recruited Paramedics (for Home Visits), Physio’s, Pharmacists, Social Prescribers, Physicians Associates, a Health and Wellbeing Coach, a Dietician, and a Care Coordinator. We are currently recruiting for another paramedic (to help see patients face to face in the surgery), a mental health professional, and another Physician’s Associate. Some of these roles help with day-to-day patient capacity, whereas others work in a more complimentary way with the wider clinical team. Some of the roles have very specific objectives set by NHSE, to help get the best clinical and social outcomes for our patients…so not all their time are always devoted to day-to-day surgery work.

Please understand that we are doing out best for you all, every day. We are sorry that we cannot always meet everyone’s expectations, but it is not through lack of trying.