Understanding Pressures in GP Practice
Theresa Larcombe, Jurassic Coast Primary Care Network.
Eilish Davoren, Ammonite Partnership
Bridport – Beaminster – Maiden Newton
There can be no doubt that GP practices throughout the country are struggling to cope with the current pressures they are experiencing, not just as a result of Covid-19 but also due to the highly publicised long-term developing crisis facing the NHS.
This article is designed to give our patients an insight into how the country-wide pressures are affecting us here at Ammonite, and the positive steps we’re taking to ensure that we continue to provide the best medical service for our 26,000 patients.
We can’t provide all the answers, but we can give you information to help you understand what is happening here in Bridport, Beaminster, Maiden Newton and the surrounding villages.
What’s causing the problem? In a nutshell:
- There aren’t sufficient GPs to go around – numbers of consultations have risen by 15%, but the numbers of GPs have risen by only 4.75%.
- The benchmarks for medical intervention have reduced whilst the population has aged, and the number of people with complex conditions has increased.
- Successive governments have “kicked the can down the road”, consistently failing to address the increasing burdens on GP practices, and the increasing clinical staff burnout with increasing numbers of NHS staff leaving; either having to take early retirement or find a less continually overwhelming environment to work in.
- Reducing NHS budgets despite more and more government demands.
That’s without building in a global pandemic which is a long way from being fully contained.
The results of all this mean that as the pressures on general practice have grown, the experience for patients has deteriorated, albeit from high levels.
Three main issues come across loud and clear:
"I'm struggling to get to see my GP" - We need to make sure there are sufficient resources to provide the appropriate medical professional when you need them, be that face to face or by telephone or video call.
"I find using a computer too difficult" - We need to make the use of IT simple and effective.
"I'm worried about Covid" - We need to cope with the constraints and challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, what are we doing here at Ammonite to meet these challenges?
Put simply, to move forward, General Practice across the country must adopt new ways of working which we at Ammonite see as possible through:
- Better utilisation of all healthcare professionals and resources
- More effective and user-friendly integration of technology
- A more comprehensive understanding of our local population
- Effective communication with our patients.
- Helping our patients to understand lifestyle impacts
- Helping patients with chronic conditions to access non-clinical services to support their medical needs.
Focus on multiskilled team working
- Ensuring patient routes to the right clinician at the right time
- Integrating the skills provided by all the practice clinicians
Focus on Technology
- Embracing and effectively utilising technology
- Ensuring IT supports and enhances the patient experience.
- Ensuring the IT provision is effective and efficient for clinicians.
Focus on Development
- Develop an effective workforce strategy to support more sustainable careers for GPs and their fellow team members.
GP Community Pharmacy Consultation Scheme
- Reduce the burden on GP appointments by encouraging the first point of contact for minor illness to be the pharmacist.
- Helping patients to self-manage their health
The Access Hub
- Creation of an integrated triage hub to co-ordinate care ensuring we provide the right clinician at the right time.
The challenges we face will continue, but by working with our patients, staff, and community we will keep striving to achieve improved access to care for all and a commitment to patients seeing the right clinician within a reasonable time.
Published: Nov 24, 2021
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