The following presentation was delivered to members:
Councillor Ralph referred to the 12 fellowship general practitioners and questioned how many of those were currently engaged on this program at the Corringham IMC to which he was informed that interest had been shown by six of the 12 posts which were going through the process and starting soon. A team in Basildon had done a fabulous job selling this concept and would be undertaking a similar exercise on general practitioner trainees in Southend. The message being delivered was “tell us what you want like out of your career” and help would be given to achieve that.
Councillor Ralph referred to data being made available on appointments and questioned whether these would be physical, or telephone appointments being recorded to which Stephen Porter agreed to find the answer and email Councillor Ralph following this evening’s meeting.
Councillor Ralph stated his concern that residents are unable to get physical appointments, misdiagnosis were possibly being given through telephone appointments, illnesses were being missed and with A&E now being used as a general practitioner’s service he felt there needed to a push back to physical appointments.
Councillor Ralph referred to the 1000 telephone line connections and questioned whether these calls would go to a call-centre rather than the general practitioner practice to which he was informed this would possibly be a digital solutions based on telephony which would use the internet to manage these calls and agreed to find out more information and forward to members.
Councillor Pothecary referred to telephone appointments and agreed that sometimes a telephone appointment might be fine and adequately suitable and for other times not ideal, she then gave an example of a terrible experience with her own general practitioner trying to organise a face-to-face appointment. Councillor Pothecary referred to the telephony solution and was not convinced the answer was a technology solution for more telephone lines, the issue would be around sorting out appointments so that residents can get to see their general practitioner. Councillor Pothecary referred to the 8am lottery with a lot of residents not being able to make a call that time of day due to travel or other commitments and reiterated that a better system should be available for residents to make appointments. Stephen Porter acknowledged Councillor Pothecary’s points and stated that work would continue with clinical directors and would put this issue on the agenda for their next meeting and report back to the committee.
Councillor Fish referred to the “ease of getting through on the phone” slide and referred to the two categories of “easy” and “not easy” and stated there was insufficient information to get a realistic picture. A realistic picture being more than the 59% who found it harder to get an appointment. Stephen Porter stated this was a national survey and would be able to provide these comments from the feedback.
Councillor Fish referred to “social subscribers” and stated these were a fantastic innovation into surgeries and questioned what model they would work to. As this would depend on how long they would get with each patient to make a real difference, if they were to work along the same lines as general practitioners and have little time with each patient, then these would not be successful. Stephen Porter stated they would not work to the same constraints that general practitioners were under, they would be more flexible in terms of time, may hold walk-in sessions, make referrals and spend more time depending on the need of patients. Members were informed that a close eye would be kept on the model of working to ensure that it fitted the needs of Thurrock residents.
Councillor Fish stated that his own general practitioner surgery had the additional roles refurbishment scheme, but he still had to wait two weeks to see a doctor. Stephen Porter stated this was a triage, filtering process that would take place with some patients not having seen a doctor, as they did not need to, some patients would be happy with that, some would not. It was vital that these experiences were heard as it was important to go back to surgeries, clinical directors, practice managers and liaise with patients.
Councillor Polley also referred to the additional role’s refurbishment scheme, and stated the 30 paramedics were not additional roles they had probably been poached from another service as working at general practitioner surgeries would be more attractive because of the working hours. These were not new paramedics they had been taken from another service. Councillor Polley referred to the new initiative which would work within the Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm constraint, general practitioners were potentially small businesses. Councillor Polley stated she did not know of any other businesses that would close their doors one day a month to undertake training and based on the shortage of appointments this was a disservice to the residents of Thurrock. Stephen Porter stated that new practitioners coming into Thurrock would find the offer of training once a month very attractive. With the way practices were evolving and changing, new research was required, and NHS England would expect that regular training was carried out. Stephen Porter stated they would continue to push for the right balance. Also stated there had been no intentions of poaching paramedics, that it was a free market and that paramedics could work where they wanted.
Councillor Piccolo praised and appreciated the work undertaken of his general practitioner surgery.
Councillor Ralph stated that general practitioner had worked through some unique times but should not continue to use covid as a means to avoid face to face appointments.
Councillor Ralph thanked members for their valued input and comments.