HEALTH MAT­TERS

Macclesfield Express - - MACCLESFIELD PEOPLE -

●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Med­i­cal Prac­tice, Poyn­ton, and ex­ec­u­tive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group (CCG) A 10-MINUTE GP ap­point­ment, Mon­day to Fri­day, is not al­ways ad­e­quate to meet pa­tient need, yet this re­mains the norm for many GP surg­eries.

One so­lu­tion is to add ‘more of the same’ – more ap­point­ments, evenings and week­ends – but is this re­ally the an­swer?

If so, where will th­ese GPs come from?

At a time when most GPs will tell you they can­not work any harder, or any longer, what op­tions are there?

The an­swer emerg­ing from lo­cal prac­tices across eastern Cheshire is that it is not just about adding more GPs.

The fu­ture lies in col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween prac­tices, com­mu­nity ser­vices and the hos­pi­tals, us­ing tech­nol­ogy dif­fer­ently and pro­vid­ing al­ter­na­tives to the 10-minute de­fault.

Many prac­tices na­tion­ally, and some lo­cally, are adopt­ing a sys­tem of an early con­ver­sa­tion with the GP or nurse be­fore an ap­point­ment is of­fered.

This al­ready hap­pens out of hours and for ur­gent prob­lems.

It is es­ti­mated that 40 to 50 per cent of re­quests to speak to or see a GP can be man­aged with­out the pa­tient vis­it­ing the surgery.

GPs are skilled sign­posters for pa­tients and have ac­cess to the whole care record plus lo­cal NHS and other re­sources.

When a pa­tient or carer phones or emails the surgery, they are called back (or emailed) at a time and num­ber con­ve­nient for them, depend­ing on ur­gency, and by a doc­tor of their choice if avail­able.

The con­sul­ta­tion can be com­pleted by a face-to­face ap­point­ment, up front tests, or on­ward re­fer­ral.

It is a great way to main­tain con­ti­nu­ity and pro­vide fol­low up.

It im­proves the avail­abil­ity of face-to-face ap­point­ments if needed, re­duc­ing wait­ing times and stop­ping the 8am rush for ap­point­ments.

Lo­cal prac­tices are seek­ing fund­ing to in­crease ca­pac­ity and roll out ser­vice im­prove­ments such as this.

GP surg­eries and out of hours GPs will need to col­lab­o­rate to of­fer ap­point­ments for work­ing peo­ple and week­end/ evening ur­gent is­sues.

With this sys­tem, peo­ple get the right ad­vice or ap­point­ment with the right per­son at the right time.

We will sup­port our surg­eries who wish to work like this to em­power peo­ple, re­duce de­pen­dence and build con­fi­dence in our lo­cal NHS.

●● Dr Paul Bowen

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