PPG Report & Priorities
The Linthorpe surgery patient participation group has been operating since 2011. We meet on a six weekly basis for one hour and discuss priority areas identified through patient and practice staff feedback. The patient participation group are responsible for the annual practice survey and the action plan based on this. Each year there is a survey question asking patients for any areas they would like the group to focus on.
Prioirty areas identified in previous years have included telephone access, surgery letters to patients, text messaging service, car parking at the surgery, improving accessibility to nurses and hospital discharge letters. As a result of these discussions the surgery changed its 0844 number to a local rate number, implemented a text messaging service to both confirm and remind patients about their appointments and we have employed an additional treatment room nurse. The PPG have reviewed all the standard letters that the surgery sends to patients and they have standardised and improved them. Also due to PPG members concerns regarding hospital letters, the surgery have entered into discussions with James Cook hospital regarding the timeliness and quality of dicharge summaries.
More recent priorities have been:
1) The surgery appointment system
It was felt that there was a general dissatisfaction with the system and the fact that patients often had to wait for 2 weeks for the next routine appointment, the on-call GP was often unable to cope with demand and more and more patients were attending walk in centres. As a result of this the appointment system has been completely revamped, with all patients that request a same day appointment being offered a telephone consultation with the doctor first. Routine appointments are still available for patients that do not need to see a doctor urgently. Patients are also now able to book, cancel and amend appointments online, via the surgery website. One third of appointments have been available for online booking since July 2014.
The new system has resulted in an increased workload for GP's, who often have over 100 telephone consultations each day (shared between 2 or 3 on call GP's). This new system was introduced in November 2014 and although patients are still adjusting to it initial signs are good, with 62% of patients responding positively in our recent survey. Since November there has been a decrease in patients attending the walk in centres and also a dramatic decrease in emergency admissions. It is a good system for carers and patients who cannot get to the surgery easily as they can speak to the GP on the telephone and any medication required can be sent via electronic prescribing to the pharmacy of choice. Patients concerned about themselves or a dependant/relative can easily seek reassurance from a doctor that knows their history without the need to attend a walk in centre or hospital A&E department.
2)Patients who fail to attend for their appointments
A new DNA (Did Not Attend) policy was introduced with the help of the patient group. Doctors and nurses now inform the secretaries when a patient fails to attend and the secretaries send out a standard letter to patients explaining how much time this wastes for the clinician. There are second and third letters which get more stern each time. The patient group also designed their own letter / leaflet to go along with the surgery letter and this is routinely sent out with the surgery letter. atients who do not attend their appointment. There have been letters sent to patients inappropriately and this has caused some anxieties, however the majority of patients respond well to the letter and do not fail to attend future appointments. DNA numbers have dropped by 20% between October 2014 and February 2015.
It was felt that it was important to ensure that carers received appropriate support by way of access to accurate information on a range of topics such as entitlement to benefits and respite care and not least, a listening ear when things get too much. Caring for someone is an important and valuable role in the community which can be very demanding and isolating. We have therefore introduced a supporting carers section on the surgery website which gives lots of information from who to contact regarding a carers support plan to holidays and pamper sessions for carers. There is also information regarding different services that are available to carers and a list of useful contact numbers. All the information on the website is also available as a carers support pack from the surgery, for patients who do not have internet access. The pack includes forms to complete and return to the surgery to enable us to have a comprehensive list of carers and also consent forms to allow carers to have access to the medical records, results etc of the person they are caring for. This, we feel has had a positive impact on our carers and we receive very good feedback about the pack. The priority areas identified, along with action plans and survey results are on the surgery website and also available to view in the waiting room.
We are still actively recruiting patients to join our group, information and forms are available on the surgery website or at the surgery reception.