A new campaign has launched in Doncaster to bust myths and address misconceptions about primary care services, led by NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
In Doncaster, a wide range of primary care services exist, to help keep people fit and healthy. These include pharmacies, local practice, Doncaster Same Day Health Centre, the GP out of hour’s service and community nurses. So whatever issue or complaint people have, there is always a service that can provide the right information, support, advice and treatment.
Like other areas across the country, many people continue to use the emergency department unnecessarily because they don’t always know where to go for help. Some of these reasons include lack of awareness of what services exist and the perception of attending the emergency department being a quicker alternative.
Today’s campaign aims to address these misconceptions head on, making it easier and quicker to understand what services are available and how they can be accessed.
Over the last 12 months, the views of thousands of patients and members of the public have been gathered to find out what they think about health and care services in Doncaster. An overwhelming majority say they struggle to get an appointment with their local practice and find it difficult to contact their local practice to make an appointment.
Today’s campaign launches with a clear focus on choice and access, reminding Doncaster folk about the ‘More choice, more appointments’ service which operates from five locations across Doncaster.
Dr David Crichton, local GP and Clinical Chair, NHS Doncaster CCG said: “It’s great to see this new campaign bringing all elements of primary care together.
“The ‘More choice, more appointments’ service operates from five locations in Doncaster and means 160 hours of extra GP and nurse appointment time is available for all registered patients to access. This not only means access to appointments outside of patients’ usual practice, it means greater choice for patients who may not be able to attend their local practice during standard working hours.
“As well as the ‘More choice, more appointments’ service, the launch of primary care networks in July may help working patients get an early morning or evening appointment. A total of five networks operate in Doncaster, meaning each practice within each network has the option to open their appointments up to patients across the network.”
In addition to raising awareness of the primary care networks in Doncaster and focussing on choice and access, five other themes will help focus on primary care services as a whole:
- Choosing the right service – highlighting a range of primary care services available in Doncaster
- Highlighting the vast range of health and care professionals that exist in primary care, from pharmacists through to health care assistants. This will help people to understand they don’t always need to see their local GP, there are many appointments available with nurses, clinical practitioners and others to provide help, support, advise and treat
- Focussing on the importance of self-care
- Improving access and use of digital tools in primary care – helping to increase the use of Apps and online tools to contact local practices and find out where local health and care services are, and
- Making the best use of primary buildings and facilities, showing how we will collectively maintain and improve sites in the future.
Dr Dean Eggitt, local GP and Chief Executive for Doncaster’s Local Medical Committee said: “This is a great step in the direction for primary care services in Doncaster and I welcome this campaign.
“As a local GP, I know there is a perception that patients cannot get an appointment with their GP. This is not always the case as we know in many cases they can be treated by another health and care professional, such as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, General Practice Nurse or Clinical Practitioner. The dawn of the primary care networks and the ‘More choice, more appointments’ service also means there are alternatives out there for people to see a health care professional more easily.
“I look forward to seeing the campaign develop in the coming months to raise awareness of the vast number of services that exist in primary care, encouraging people to think about the services that are most appropriate to their health and care needs.”
Nick Hunter, Chief Officer of Doncaster’s Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “I am delighted the campaign has fully acknowledged the skill, knowledge and expertise of pharmacists in Doncaster, reminding people they can visit their local pharmacy if they need information, support, advice and treatment for minor conditions and ailments.
“Whether it’s a cough, cold, sore throat, sting or even a flu jab, people can visit their local pharmacy at a time to suit them, quite often, close to home. I encourage everyone to get behind and find out more about this important campaign so everyone can make best use of local health and care services.”
Recently, more than 1,400 local people responded to a survey about local primary care services in Doncaster. The survey, led by Healthwatch Doncaster found a high proportion of people struggled to book an appointment with their local practice and particularly found it difficult to get through via telephone.
Andrew Goodall, Chief Operating Officer at Healthwatch Doncaster said: “It is great to see this great new campaign building on vital insight and feedback from local people in Doncaster.
“This is a positive step in the right direction which clearly shows how this feedback is being used to improve services and help people access services in ways that suit them.”
The primary care campaign will have monthly themes, targeted at particular months of the year. In November and December, the campaign will focus on choosing the right service, as well as raising awareness of the wide range of health and care professionals working in primary care. This will help encourage people to make best use of all services during the winter months.