Coquet Medical Group: GPs fire-fighting, rather than innovating

Posted on 07th December 2017 | in Community , News

Amble Health Centre

The NHS is under considerable pressure and no more so than in General Practice.

Coquet Medical Group serves over 11,300 patients across the Amble, Warkworth and Broomhill areas and as a Training Practice makes every effort to provide high quality, safe, caring and effective patient care.

Every month we conduct thousands of face to face consultations as well as home visits, telephone calls and associated activities with tasks, letters, results and referrals.

We do this on a fixed budget of less than £146 per patient per year. Most patients attend their GPs six times a year, but some attend over 40 times a year.

At present there is a major shortage of GPs. This is because the career is very stressful, dealing with complex ill patients in a very limited time. Typically a GP gets just 10 minutes for each consultation, because of the huge demand. GPs have seen an 11% drop in income since 2008. 80% of GPs across the country feel their workload is unmanageable or excessive. Only 8% of NHS spending goes on General Practice: so it is hugely underfunded.

Coquet Medical Group has invested considerable time and effort in identifying patients likely to develop serious medical problems (such as those with a high risk of diabetes) but with slightly more funding we could do so much more to improve the health of our patients.

The chronic lack of GPs results in fewer GPs struggling with more and more work. This in turn contributes to difficulties with booking appointments, increased time-consuming complaints and GPs fire-fighting rather than innovating. The end result is frustrating for you and incredibly stressful and tiring for GPs and practice staff.

We recently examined our nurse appointments and the rate of people not attending. We refer to these as Did Not Attend patients (DNAs). We found that every month we have been losing nearly a whole week of nurse time due to patients failing to attend their nurse appointments.

The majority of GP appointments are now released on the day. This has significantly reduced the DNA rate for GPs, who can focus on patients who are unwell. It will hopefully come as some reassurance to those who struggle to get an appointment that every morning and every afternoon we have a designated “Duty GP.” Once the appointments released on the day have been booked anyone wanting an appointment will be offered a telephone appointment with this Duty GP, who will then be able to review your problem and decide on the next step, for example arranging tests , or being seen by a GP or nurse. When possible the Duty GP will book you in with someone who has seen you before.

We are trying our very best to provide high quality, safe care, targeted at the people who genuinely need medical help the most, in a timely manner.

What you can do to help:

• Understand the immense pressure General Practice is under.
• Use the service responsibly.
• Let us know if you are unable to attend an appointment
• Make every effort not to book in for multiple problems: the GP has only 10 minutes per patient.
• Make any request for a possible house call before 10am when possible.

If you want to do more, write or email your local MP (details below) and ask them to request that General Practice is immediately given 11% of the NHS budget rather than the 8% it currently gets. This would make a huge difference in our ability to offer appointments and services and recruit extra staff, even if they are not GPs.

Coquet Medical Group

Contact details for our local MP
Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
Tel. 01289 385150