Last night the Nairn and Ardersier Patients Group held their AGM in the Community and Arts Centre it was followed by a Q&A session with Deborah Jones (Chief Operating Officer, NHS Highland) and JeanPierre Sieczkarek, Area Manager, Inverness West, Inverness East, Nairn & Ardersier, Badenoch & Strathspey. Numbers were perhaps a bit down on what this observer has witnessed at previous meetings organised by the NAPG and its forerunner the Patients Participation Group but that was more than made up for by questions that had been gathered from the group’s facebook page and other sources.
There was discussion on quite a lot of subjects important to patients in Nairn, including the regular one of appointments, also questions related to physiotherapy, hip replacements, mental health care for young people, day care, the future of the hydrotherapy pool and others. If time permits we hope to have a look at some of the questions and the responses. Tonight we will have a quick look at the discussion on the topic of appointments, this issue just doesn’t seem to want to go away.
One woman attending the meeting said: “There is a situation at the moment with our GPs if you turn up at the clinic at half past eight in the morning you’re going to get appointments. I’ve a brother who has got his own doctor three times to come up there. I think that is wrong, sombody else is sitting at home, needing an appointment, they’re on the phone till nine o’ clock maybe and when they get through the appointments have gone. Should it not be a case of, perhaps, phone calls only until maybe half past nine or ten o’ clock to give everybody a fair chance? There’s somebody sitting at home not able to go or maybe has no transport and somebody gets up there at half past eight. I don’t think it is a fair system.”
Simon Noble, chairing the meeting said this was a point that had been heard before and that he thought that there was recognition that there were a limited number of appointments on the day.
The individual making her point continued: “If you are able to go up you’re maybe not is as much need as someone who is sitting at home, really quite poorly, and needs to see a doctor that day. I think there must be a better way of dealing with this.”
Deborah Jones then said: “Undoubtedly there has to be a better way. I think we have got to try and get the balance haven’t we? Some people may not have telephones; there may still be some people that don’t have telephones. So we have to try and get the balance haven’t we between availability and timing. A friend of mine is a receptionist in a doctors’ surgery and she says “I sometimes feel like I am the worst person in the world because everybody is pointing the finger saying you aren’t giving me what I want to have and we only have got a certain number of slots for certain categories and she describes having a list of appointments for urgent or routine and then some visiting slots later on in the day. [...] What she is saying is that there are a finite number of slots that she has available as a receptionist to actually provide to patients and that kind of makes sense in terms...if we have a finite number of places, 1,2 ,3 or more then in terms of then being able to meet the needs and demands of the local population there has to be some system. Now in all the years I’ve been working in health I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a system that has ever met the needs of the population. There have been some that have been more efficient and effective than others and clearly this is an issue that has created significant concern for people and is absolutely an issue that needs to be addressed through the practice, by the practice for the practice population.”
JeanPierre Sieczkarek then added:
“When we had our last meeting, many of you were here at the last meeting that we had. We had a similar question about how do we get our points over to GPs and how do we get that system better and I think just so that we can sort of bring that part to some kind of conclusion it’s my job really now to take that back to the practice and start looking at some of the issues that you have raised there. I’m with Deborah on this really, when you listen to it, it’s like “I don’t like the sound of that and we need to sort this out”. We do have an arrangement and it’s a contractual arrangement with the practice and we expect a certain level of quality in that so I’ll take everything back but can I encourage you in the future, as part of our relationship; this is a very good example of what I described last time as a conduit between patients and the practice until we get that part of it all sorted out again.
The meeting continued - more on the Gurn if time permits.
Also related to appointments at the practice: earlier today a local resident tweeted a complaint that there was now a three day wait for telephone appointments. The Gurn contacted the practice for a comment and we were told by Dr Adrian Baker who clarified the situation regarding telephone appointments:
“Patients can speak to a duty GP or a nurse on the day that they phone up. If they wish to speak to a particular GP or nurse then there may be a wait for a few days as the GP or nurse may not be available. This is because they may have been on call the night before, working on the hospital ward or performing other duties such as clinics or working in A&E.”