Sovereign Health Partnership Patient Engagement Event

Thank you to everyone who attended our patient engagement event on Tuesday 7th December. It was set up to:

• Listen to your concerns
• Answer key questions raised
• Clarify our access process
• Tell you about our key priorities.

We appreciate so many people taking the time to share their views with us. For those unable to join the meeting you can watch a recording by clicking here, but here is a brief summary.

We know that there was some frustration around the way we asked for comments to be made via the ‘chat’ function rather than asked ‘in person’ – but we felt this was the fairest way given the number of people attending (well over 100 joined the meeting, and we had expected 220).

Many comments and questions were raised so, as well as providing answers to key themes on the day, we are preparing a full response to the points raised will be on our website by December 16.

Dr Tom Bertram gave a presentation in response to your pre-meeting questions and the main themes raised by the online patients’ forum. You can view his presentation here. It covered:

• background information about the work, and current workload, of the practice
• the way the practice manages its triage and clinical decision making
• a focus on the online access eConsult service and the way this is managed
• how telephone calls into the practice are handled, with plans to improve the telephone system in the new year; and
• arrangements for coming into the surgery given the current pandemic.

We also shared information about the work that the practice is undertaking around the Covid-19 vaccine programme, flu clinics and the new pharmacy referral scheme.
Below are the responses given to some key issues from the meeting and the full document will include responses to all questions raised.

Questions/themes that arose at the meeting

1 Engaging with patients who are not online

Our buildings are open. People can come to the surgery and we will help them through what we call an ‘eConsult-lite’ process to get the help they need. Social prescribers are running weekly drop-in sessions for support and a monthly drop-in session for carers. A complex 2 care team, including a GP, nurse and practice paramedic are on hand to support patients unable to leave their own home.

2 Difficulties filling in eConsult forms

Concerns were raised about having sometimes to ‘manipulate’ the information given to avoid being told to go to the Emergency Department or call 999. The practice is aware that there are difficulties with what was a nationally designed and implemented system but it is set up to ensure safety.

Our recommendation is to be as accurate as possible in providing information to ensure that nothing important is missed in terms of safety. You can call the practice if you have been directed to a service that you do not feel is appropriate. For many queries, particularly those relating to fit notes, test results, prescriptions etc you can contact the practice directly through the green buttons on the home page of the website.

3 Wouldn’t it be easier to see a GP first time than go through eConsult or triage?

We use experienced clinicians on a rota basis to run our triage service as this is the best way for us to manage patient health concerns safely and effectively, particularly around who needs to be seen when and how we prioritise those who need urgent help.

4 Phoning the practice

A number of concerns have been raised about phoning the practice and wait times. We deal with calls as quickly and as safely as we can. Our call handling team have an IT system that enables them to see how many people are waiting and for how long. Recruitment and retention is difficult given the competitive nature of the job market currently but we are doing everything we can to recruit, train and retain good quality people.

We are reviewing our 3 practice telephone systems and have las week had an engineer to complete the survey of all equipment, this will help us to see what can be done to increase capacity and reduce waits. It remains the case that all calls that need it are clinically triaged as well, so that any phone assessment of health conditions is undertaken by clinical staff.

5 Have health checks for the over-75s stopped?

Our aim, in spite of increasing requirements on us to support the national vaccination programme, continues to be to keep as many services and checks going as possible. We are trying to get the balance right between vaccinations and routine care, whilst managing the risks that come with not doing enough of either.

6 How are you going to manage with the increasing population growth in the area?

Part of the reason for the merger was to ensure that we were able to create a sound, sustainable partnership which would be an attractive proposition for GPs and other staff when it comes to recruitment. We want to create an environment where people would want to come and work for us. The Clinical Commissioning Group is also working with the practice, and organisations like Fareham Borough Council, to plan for population growth. At the moment the focus is on Whiteley surgery, and plans for enhanced facilities there.

7 Isn’t this just the first step in a journey towards privatisation?

Again, our intention in moving forward with the merger is to strengthen our partnership working which reduces the likelihood of any of our practices being taken over by an outside organisation were they to become unsustainable.

8 It feels like we are losing contact with our GPs and with that our continuity of care…

Our team of GPs came into practice because they wanted contact with patients, and we recognise the value of continuity of care. Primary care is changing and practices are becoming bigger to help ensure that we can continue to have as much contact with patients as possible.

What happens next?

This was the second in a series of engagement events and regular updates and we are keen to investigate how we can hold some at a more local surgery level as well as across all three practices. We would welcome your thoughts and suggestions about this through our email address.

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