Q. How will this help with appointment availability and waiting times?
A. We have an opportunity to use our practice sites and enlarged and diverse teams in a new way to meet growing demand for primary care services, and we are currently looking at how best to deliver this following the merger.
We value continuity of care and want to ensure that we continue ensuring that the relevant patients have access to their usual GP (or GPs). We would also want to ensure that patients requiring urgent care have access to timely appropriate care.
Patients with long term conditions will need ongoing care delivered in primary care and we want to ensure that all patients have access to this. General Practice is a finite resource but, used in the correct way, can continue to address the needs of our patient population.
Q. Will I be able to see any Dr from across the group at any site?
A. Patients will continue to be registered with a usual GP (or GP team). Patient choice is important, however in order to efficiently and effectively provide care for our patients we will be looking to design a service that is able to deliver continuity of care, urgent care and long term conditions care across the sites we work from. We have not worked out the details and endeavour to ensure we make the best use of our health care team.
Q. Can I change my allocated GP?
A. We would encourage patients not to make an immediate decision about changing their ‘usual’ GP during this period of change. One of the most underestimated benefits of General Practice is continuity of care, and we are passionate about trying to maintain this. Continuity of care is associated with better health outcomes and a more positive patient experience. We appreciate that this is not always possible.
Should you wish to change your usual GP following the period of change, this can be discussed with the Practice team. However any final decision on alteration of the ‘usual GP’ will be taken by the Practice team.
Q. We have talked a lot about the positives of the merger, what are the negatives / challenges?
A. There are many challenges associated with merging three independent and successful organisations. We have spent years already working on these. Challenges facing us include-
- How to align our processes so we are all doing the same thing.
- How to preserve continuity of care whilst improving access to healthcare.
- Communication and registration with the larger organisations that run the NHS and ensure its safety and quality; this includes NHS England and the Care Quality Commission.
Q. Will there be one computer system?
A. We are fortunate that, at the moment, we all operate from the same brand of clinical computer system, albeit the patient lists are not visible across the three sites as we are separate surgeries. This means there is no major cost or interruptions of IT changes when, from April 2024, we join up the patient lists and clinical records are available at any of our sites, which will enable you to be seen effectively at any of our locations as the clinician will have appropriate information to support the consultation.
All clinical records are treated with the utmost confidentiality, whether at your current practice, or in the new, larger, organisation. No member of staff, whether clinical or non-clinical, is able to access your medical record without a specific justification, and all staff’s activities are auditable. So although your record will be accessible from other surgeries, it will only ever be opened for appropriate reasons.
Q. How will you work with other local services such as the RUH and other community healthcare teams?
A. We are aiming to use our single voice, as a single organisation, to work much more closely with the organisations mentioned, and others including local charities, and social care. We think that it will be far easier for us to bring services from these organisations into our Practice. We would very much like to see joint clinics provided locally with Consultants, GPs and specialist Nurses coming into your surgery. We also think it will be far easier for these external organisations to work with us, because we will be negotiating with them with a single unified voice on behalf of our patients.
Q. What specific extra services are going to be brought into the practice?
A. We currently offer Pharmacist medication reviews, Musculoskeletal Practitioner (Physio) Services, Health Coaches (Social Prescribers), and Physicians Associates. We would like to offer a wider range of services, such as mental health practitioners. We see that we can more easily work alongside these other Professionals if we work together. This will help support the current GPs and Practice Nurses to deliver care better to the more complex patients, including seeing patients in their own homes and in Care and Nursing Homes.
There are multiple allied organisations who we would like to work more closely with and so be able to bring new and different services into the health system to support people.
Q. Will we get more pro-active rather than re-active care?
A. We already provide proactive services including vaccinations, health screening, health checks, monitoring of chronic diseases, care planning, and looking at the safe prescribing of medications.
We will always need to provide reactive care. We hope that if we can provide this in a different way, making sure that a person sees the ‘right person at the right time’ we can change the way we provide other proactive services.
We want to make sure that people can get to health screening. We want to work on longer term conditions like Diabetes, COPD and asthma to make sure that those people who need proactive management of these conditions can access this and that it is provided by staff with the best knowledge, this may often be one of our enormously experienced nursing team.
Q. How do you plan to communicate more efficiently with your patients?
A. We aim to use a variety of communication methods to try and reach a wide range of patients. These include online methods, such as our websites, social media pages and emails; as well as paper based methods, such as posters and newsletters in our waiting rooms.
It can be difficult to make sure that we are reaching all of our patients, and we aim to work towards forming a joint Patient Participation Group to help us communicate more effectively. We would welcome any suggestions of local forums or groups who may be able to assist us in reaching more members of our community.