This week we bring you two Health Matters columns, looking at access to GPs and blood pressure
●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton, and executive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). IT is often only when people move into this area that GPs are given a sense of the excellent service they deliver – patients cannot believe the levels of access and service that are delivered by eastern Cheshire doctors and nurses.
While the pressures on general practice are no different in Macclesfield than elsewhere, it is widely acknowledged that the nationally reported queues outside surgeries, or three to four-week waits to see any GP do not exist in local practices.
Recognising and rewarding this level of care is difficult, and patting ourselves on the back at such stressful and overworked times is difficult.
However the recent national GP survey placed eastern Cheshire surgeries well above average for overall experience, with some surgeries scoring excellent results in many areas.
Another measure of quality is the results of Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspections, taking place in practices throughout 2015.
Every eastern Cheshire GP practice that has been inspected by the CQC this year has been rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ – a phenomenal achievement and great news for eastern Cheshire residents.
Indeed, Macclesfield’s Broken Cross Surgery, which received an ‘outstanding’ rating, was praised by the CQC for its well-led services which are responsive to people’s needs.
The CQC report stated that: “The practice had a clear vision to deliver high quality care and promote good outcomes for patients.
“There was strong leadership, governance arrangements and strategic vision within the practice.”
The other eastern Cheshire practice to be given an ‘outstanding’ rating this year was The Schoolhouse Surgery, in Disley.
Inspectors found The Schoolhouse to be particularly effective in its provision of effective care, as well as being well-led.
The accompanying report stated: “The team worked together to ensure that when any patient was discharged from hospital, all support services were in place and any newly prescribed medicines were available when needed.”
Two other surgeries besides Broken Cross have been inspected by the CQC this year – South Park Surgery and Park Lane House Medical Centre – both receiving ‘good’ ratings.
The CQC reported that patients at Park Lane were treated with compassion, dignity and respect and that they were involved in care and treatment decisions.
In addition, inspectors stated that South Park had ‘a good track record for maintaining patient safety’ and that ‘patients were listened to and feedback was acted upon’.
To view the full CQC reports, visit cqc.org.uk and, for the national GP survey results, visit gp-patient.co.uk.
DID you know one in three adults in the UK have high blood pressure?
This results in unnecessary deaths from strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and kidney failure due to poor blood pressure control.
As such, my GP colleagues and I are backing the nation’s biggest blood pressure testing event, Know your Numbers, in the hope that we can reduce the large number of preventable deaths caused by high blood pressure.
The Blood Pressure UK campaign is taking place from September 14 to 20 and encourages the public to know their numbers by getting their blood pressure checked for free at participating pharmacies across eastern Cheshire.
You can also get your blood pressure checked as part of an NHS Health Check, which involves a more in depth check and needs to be booked with your practice nurse in advance.
Crucial follow-up guidance will also be provided as part of the service if necessary.
A blood pressure of above 140/90 is considered high in an otherwise healthy adult and may need treatment.
If you have diabetes or some other medical conditions your ‘target’ blood pressure is slightly lower.
High blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer’, as typically there are no noticeable symptoms, although it causes progressive damage to the cardiovascular system.
Very low blood pressure can be just as serious as having high blood pressure, as it can restrict the blood flow to vital organs.
Consequently, I would recommend regular blood pressure tests to monitor levels and detect any abnormalities.
You are more likely to be at risk of having high blood pressure if you: ●● Don’t eat enough fruit or vegetables ●● Have a high salt intake ●● Don’t do sufficient exercise ●● Are overweight ●● Drink alcohol excessively ●● Smoke regularly
The British Heart Foundation offers hints and tips on how to change your lifestyle to maintain a healthy heart and blood pressure rate. Find out more at bhf.org.uk.
Adapting your way of life and knowing your numbers can reduce your health risks significantly.
All it takes is a painless, free, two-minute test that could save your life!
●● Dr Paul Bowen