Frequently Asked Questions ... 24 October 2014 ___________________________________________________________________________
The following Questions were raised at the Patients' Open Meeting at the Practice on 24 October 2014 You can find the Minutes of the Meeting by clicking here ...
What can we do to help the Practice? Help is aways very welcome. This is something being considered further by the PPG, and suggestions will be posted on the website.
Should the local Council's planning framework not include a Health Care Plan? Ideally, yes. There are currently 18,500 patients and this number will rise to 22,000 - 23,000 within the next few years. Consequently, it is very difficult to deliver a safe service. It was explained that this has been discussed with local Councillors and, unfortunately, there is no statutory obligation to consult on Section 106.
What has happened to the Health Centre plans that were included in the London Irish application? The initial application was refused. Subsequent applications did not include health care plans, due to the lack of funding.
We are not getting what we deserve, but rather 'the crumbs of the feast'. Should the situation be highlighted in the local/national press? This is somewhat that the PPG is going to be discussing further. The decision to 'go public' cannot be taken unilaterally, due to the possible impact on other partners, remembering that not all publicity is 'good publicity', due to the spin the media may decide to take on the story.
Has the capacity of the Health Centre been 'stress tested'? The capacity of the Centre was surpassed a number of years ago. The Practice was designed for 6,000 patients and there are currently almost 19,000. It is estimated that the number of patients will rise to 23,000 within the next 2-3 years.
As the Centre anticipates a move to new premises, should the Practice not be 'thinking bigger'? Has a Polygroup been considered, and the possibility of providing services of the local hospital? These suggestions were thought to be very useful. At this stage, the talks are only preliminary and so nothing has been considered 'in' or 'out',
Why does Virgin Health Care have more space than the Practice? A decision on this was taken by NHS England in April 2013.
Is Virgin Health Care a help or a hindrance? Virgin Health Care is a profit making organisation with a very different agenda and no real interest in helping the GPs. Given the nature of their contract (renewable in April 2017), it is difficult to establish relationships with an organisation that isn't permanent and may well disappear with the next few years.
Could the Health Centre be extended upwards to include additional floors? It is a possibility. However, NHS Properties own the building and they do not have the funds to do this.
Has the local MP done any lobbying on behalf of the Practice? The local MP, Kwasi Kwarteng, has been to the Practice on three occasions and is very empathetic. He has personally asked NHS England for further information about budgets and capital grant applications. Kwasi has also raised a question in the House of Commons, regarding the release of information about budgets and the outcomes of applications. Unfortunately, Kwasi has also found it difficult to get responses from NHS England, and they have also failed to attend meetings he had agreed to attend to move matters forward.
Whilst being understanding about the appointment process, is it possible to improve the current situation - perhaps with the use of technology? The Practice is focusing on chronic disease management which has traditionally been doctor-led, and the role of nurses and Health Care Assistants. It is envisaged that some of the work currently being undertaken by doctors, could be carried out by other practitioners and, hence, release more doctor-time.
Should the improvements in the appointment system, and the numbers of patients not attending appointments, be shared more widely? It was agreed that the PPG would action this.
If it is difficult for prescriptions to be ready within the current timescale, should the timescale not be extended? In February 2015, on-line prescribing for doctors will come into practise. This will speed up the prescription process. It was agreed that there will be a need to publicise this.
Is there a legal ceiling on the number of patients the Practice can have - e.g. can the Practice refuse to have any more new patients? Unfortunately, there is no legal ceiling. Therefore, the Practice cannot close the list, or refuse patients. This matter has previously been discussed with the Primary Health Care Trust and they commented that, if the Practice were ego close the list, the partnership would be fined.