Wessex LMC Press Release
Data reveals intense pressure on GPs. . .
New data released by the NHS covering Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and part of Somerset has thrown a spotlight on the huge increase in workload faced by GP practices as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The number of appointments offered has risen by an average of 11.8% compared to July two years ago – with Hampshire facing the biggest increase at 16.4%, followed by Wiltshire and part of Somerset combined at 13.2%. The increase was less, but still sizeable, in Dorset at 8.8%. The data includes towns such as Swindon, Fareham and Gosport, Southampton and Portsmouth, as well as the Isle of Wight.
As well as a GP shortage, there has been further pressure caused by population growth, a rise in people seeking mental health support and a backlog of routine treatment. GP surgeries have also had to adapt to new ways of working, introduced new technology for online appointments and given Covid patients oxygen saturation equipment to monitor them remotely. They have also carried out far more flu jabs than ever before.
Wessex Local Medical Committees (LMC), which represents the region’s GPs and practices, is urging patients to be far more understanding of the pressure their local surgeries are under.
Dr Gareth Bryant, Acting Chief Executive of the LMC and a GP in Wiltshire, said: “We are not looking for sympathy, just a better understanding of what we are coping with. Our GP practices have faced unprecedented demand, partly due to delivering the Covid vaccination programme and supporting patients who are ill with coronavirus, and also because they are being affected by the backlog elsewhere in the NHS.
“At the same time, there is a national shortage of GPs and practices are adapting as best they can by recruiting other staff to their teams such a physiotherapists, mental health practitioners and pharmacists. They are trying to get through appointments as best they can but there may be some delays. The Government has promised that more GPs will be recruited but it’s not happening at the speed or the levels we need.
“Our teams have put themselves in the frontline and been exposed to considerable personal risk, sometimes at the expense of their own physical, mental, and families’ health. We have sadly lost colleagues and loved ones to this terrible virus too. Many staff in the NHS are stressed and burnt out.
“We want to encourage people to give their support to their GP practice, whose staff are being kind, patient and responsible, and who are doing everything they can to support their local communities in such difficult circumstances. Our practices in the Wessex area are rated as good by over 83% of the public and even higher in most places – above the national average.”
One of the reasons for the increase in appointments undertaken, even taking into account that over 50,000 people a month fail to attend their appointments, is the rise of email, phone calls and video appointments, up 132.77% from 276,590 in July two years ago, to 643,807 this July. Face-to-face appointments are down 11.43% on average.
LMC Medical Director Dr Andy Purbrick, a GP Partner in Dorset, added: “As independent businesses, GPs have responded extremely well to the challenges of the pandemic and shown themselves to be resilient, adaptable and innovative in the way they protect both patients and staff. They should be praised for the ways in which they have adjusted, including introducing additional technology and communication channels. However, the appointment can often take longer online and result in asking someone to come in to see their GP, duplicating the time involved.
“GPs much prefer to see people face to face, recognising that many ailments cannot be effectively picked up over a phone call or email, and over half of the appointments are being done this way. However, their priority is to keep everyone safe and for many people, online technology or phone call is a more effective way of communicating when it comes to issues that are less serious.”
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
Our Patients mental health is important to us and alongside the care that we already offer, our practice has sourced some tools for both teenagers and their parents to use.
Please click to view resources
Click here for Mental Health tools
Covid Management - Site Changes
Appointments at the surgery
Due to the current severity of the Covid pandemic we are taking further measures to protect our staff and patients, including limiting the number of people in the surgery.
In order that we do not exceed our maximum number of people in the surgery, please;
DO NOT arrive early for your appointment.
Please wear a face covering, and do not attend if you have the following symptoms temperature over 37.8 degrees, a new cough or loss of smell/taste.
Carers Information Jan 21
During the first lockdown we know patients delayed seeking help for worrying, possibly cancer-type, symptoms. If you develop any worrying new symptoms, we urge you to make contact with us for further assessment. Like you, we do not want to see an increase in cancer-related deaths due to this pandemic so will be continuing to offer our screening services such as cervical smears, so please do attend these appointments.
We know you will appreciate that things are moving very quickly and this information may change at short notice. However, we wanted to share with you some of the things that are being put in place. We also want to assure you that we are here for you, despite the massive pressures facing the NHS. We are very grateful for your understanding and patience during this difficult time.
How to access our services
Please click on the image below to use the e-consult system
This is directly linked to the GP practice clinical system and therefore gives improved access to patients (response time is by the end of the next working day *weekends excluded)
Please click on the image below to sign up to the NHS App.
This is directly linked to the GP practice clinical system and therefore gives improved access to patients.
Whitewater Health is a practice which operates under 4 GP Partners and 6 salaried GPs working from two purpose built surgeries in Hook and Hartley Wintney, Hampshire. The partners and staff at this long-established local practice are committed to providing the highest level of patient care.
Having steadily grown since 1920, we are now serving a community of nearly 18,000 patients and we have recently become part of the Whitewater Loddon Primary Care Network with local practices in Chineham and Bramley.
Whitewater Health will send patients text messages directly relating to their care; which is inclusive but not limited to information about appointments, results, and matters relating to medical conditions, such as links for remote care plans or annual reviews and links to NHS self help tools. We will be continuing to ask patients to provide us with the most current mobile phone number they use.
Whitewater Health works within the NHS national standards for prescriptions, the impact of this, is that prescriptions will be authorised by each patients GP or clinical pharmacist, or prescribing nurse. These will be sent to the pharmacy of the patients choice. The aim is to reduce and remove the requirements for prescriptions in paper form, though a patient can request a "note" of the prescriptions they are to receive.
To meet patients needs we direct patients to the most appropriate health care professional within the most appropriate time. The patient services coordinators will ask patients details about the nature of the call, to ensure that the take down all appropriate information for signposting the patient to the right appointment, this is in keeping with the NHS person centred approach.
Click here for more information
Whitewater Health are pleased to sponsor 'Hook Runners' - the Village Running Club for all - please visit their website for more information
(Site updated 01/12/2021)