This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 11 July, 2016
Local doctors’ surgeries are usually the first place of contact for people when they have a health problem that isn’t an emergency and doesn’t require a visit to A&E.
In reality, those surgeries are a bit like icebergs; the buildings are often relatively small from the outside but the amount of heath care work they carry out is massive – similar to the submerged ice you don’t see under the water.
In fact about 90 per cent of all patient contacts within the NHS take place at family doctors’ surgeries – or general practice as it is known.
The scale of those contacts when looked at from a national perspective is staggering. It’s estimated that there are over 340 million consultations in GP surgeries every year – a rise of over 40 million since 2008.
The average member of the public sees a GP six times a year, which is double the number of visits from the previous decade.
It shows the important role of general practice to the NHS and why, in Doncaster, but we also recognise that we are at bursting point and we’re now looking at new ways of helping GPs and their staff to cope with rising demand from patients. We’ve set out an aspiration, that has four key elements:
- Actively promoting ways of helping people to stay well by having healthy lifestyles and by using assistive technology and other community support opportunities to maintain their independence at home.
- Providing a same day health care service for people who are generally well but at times will need an urgent appointment when they are not, this includes non-residents of Doncaster.
- Using special teams of health workers, with a range of skills like physiotherapists and pharmacists, to actively manage the care of people with long term health problems to prevent them from having emergency admissions to hospital.
- Bringing care closer to home by moving services out of hospitals and providing them in local communities.
We could well see more Doncaster practices working closer together to provide a wider range of services for you in the future.
Despite the challenges locally, we have two GP practices who have recently been awarded top marks for the quality of their care by the Government’s healthcare watchdog.
Dr Sheikh’s practice, at Bentley, and Frances Street Medical Centre, in the town centre, were both judged ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The CQC noted that Dr Sheikh’s practice had developed self-certification notes which included self-care advice and information for minor illnesses. They detail the expected duration of symptoms, how best to treat them and where to get help if the symptoms worsen.
The inspectors said Frances Street Medical Centre provides excellent care to groups of patients who have specialist needs, such as those with long term conditions and older people. They also make sure appointments are available out of school hours for young people.