Agenda item

Scrutiny Review - Access to GPs

-           Chief Executive to report.


Councillor Hoddinott, Chairman of the Review Group, introduced the report which set out the findings and recommendations of the scrutiny review of access to G.P. services by the Health Select Commission.


The key focus of Members’ attention was to identify any anomalies, issues or barriers which impact on patients in Rotherham accessing their G.P. and in particular in respect of obtaining a convenient appointment within 48 hours.


Members recognised the national and local pressures that impacted upon access to GPs.  On the supply side there was reducing funding, shortages of GPs and nurses, and premises that were not always suitable for the increasing range of services now delivered at GP practices. 


Patients’ experiences of accessing G.P.s varied from practice to practice with some long waiting times reported.  Expectations and preferences were changing and it was a question of striking a balance between clinical need, patient expectations and convenient access, with practices needing to work with their patients to develop systems that worked well for both.  Patient education and information was also important. 


G.P.s offered a range of appointment booking systems and one size did not fit all given the variations in practice size and practice populations.  Members noted some very good practice and willingness to trial new systems, but would like all practices to consider opening up some time each day for sit and wait appointments.


There were seven main aims of the review which were to consider:-


-           Establish the respective roles and responsibilities of NHS England and GP practices with regard to access to GPs.

-           Ascertain how NHS England oversees and monitors access to GPs.

-           Identify national and local pressures that impact on access to GPs – current and future.

-           Determine how GP practices manage appointments and promote access for all patients.

-           Identify how NHS England Area Team will be responding to changes nationally.

-           Consider satisfaction data from the GP Patient Survey on a practice by practice basis and to compare Rotherham with the national picture.

-           Identify areas for improvement in current access to GPs (locally and nationally).


There were twelve recommendations, set out in full as part of the review report and these were summarised below, covering the following areas:-


·                Improving access – ensuring patients’ views on access and ways to improve are heard; maintaining access to professional interpretation services; and adopting hybrid and flexible approaches to appointment systems.


·                Sharing good practice – showcasing best practice and sharing successes on providing good access to patients.


·                Improving information for patients – maintaining up to date information about each GP practice; the importance of cancelling unneeded appointments; and accessing the right health care service and health care professional at the right time.


·                Capacity to deliver primary care – mitigating risk to primary care in Rotherham in light of future challenges; encouraging GPs to remain in Rotherham after training; and being proactive about future increases in demand.


Resolved:-  (1)  That all those involved in the Scrutiny Review be thanked for their input.


(2)  That the Scrutiny Review of Access to G.P.s and its recommendations be noted and a response be submitted within two months as outlined within the Council’s Constitution.


(3)  That the decision of Cabinet on the report, recommendations and proposed action be reported back to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board in due course.


(4)  That consideration be given as to how to take this forward in order to elicit support from appropriate health partners.

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