A message from Dr Rhys Evans, Senior Partner
It’s all wearing a bit thin, isn’t it? Getting very tedious?
Hopefully by the time you are reading this the lockdown measures will already be less onerous.
But the pandemic is far from over. The levels are low, but Covid is here to stay and will affect the way we live and work, possibly permanently.
It’s been 3 months now and access to almost every NHS portal is still restricted. You have all been immensely patient but we know you are getting fed up. We know because staff at the surgery also have ailments, chronic illness, delayed appointments, family that are ill, isolating, elderly, alone. Some have partners that are furloughed, or are self-employed and in effect unemployed. Despite this they have gone the extra mile, working through Easter, taking on extra tasks, buddying up or working from home when ill. So we understand you are frustrated. But please, don’t take it out on our receptionists. This is happening only in a small minority of cases but it is unforgiveable and has an enormous effect on morale. Look after them so they can help look after you.
So what are we actually doing? I fear it may not look like much but it feels like everything at once. With our hands tied. Our practice nurse and health care assistants in particular have been well ahead of the curve in innovating ways to provide key services and in taking on practice infection control. Our core services continue, albeit rarely face to face and we are proactively looking after those known to be extremely vulnerable. We are working carefully and cautiously to keep you and ourselves safe and to prevent the risk of the surgery having to quarantine. We are co-ordinating with care homes, Gloucester Care Services and the Clinical Commissioners to provide enhanced “virtual ward rounds” and structured medication reviews, recognising they were neglected in the early days of the outbreak. We are keeping up to date with the stream of updates, new developments and guidance as hospitals do their best to reconstruct the intricate and complex referral system. Across the county there is an admission we do not have capacity to go back to the way things were. So every practice in Gloucestershire is following a uniform approach based on four pillars. In essence it boils down to remote triaging instead of lengthy waiting lists, focusing on the most appropriate care, not least self-care, and breaking down the old barriers between services. It is frustratingly time-consuming and the dreaded Zoom meetings endless, but this is an opportunity to achieve what health leaders have been trying to for years.
Unfortunately we are also seeing a clear increase in the numbers of patients struggling with their mental health. There are however are a multitude of available self-help measures that can help in the first instance. The majority of our patients, of all ages, have adapted remarkably quickly to online and remote services and all patients can self-refer to the NHS funded counselling service “ Lets Talk” and “Healthy Lifestyles”, which is what it sounds like including drug and alcohol advice. There is a huge amount of information on the NHS App and website and finally simple YouTube has many simple and excellent guides to Mindfulness. I have tried it and if a grumpy, 50-something cynic finds it helpful, so might you!
If we are lucky enough to be able to venture out more, please continue to be careful. There is no need for anxiety but simple good habits and hand hygiene will go a long way to making an already low risk negligible. Hopefully we can all get back to enjoying life more. Certainly we will all appreciate it more.
Dr Rhys Evans
Welcome to our GP Register Dr Odinma Odufuwa
Painswick Surgery welcomes our new GP Registrar Dr Odinima Odufuwa.
Dr Odufuwa will be with us for the next year and we hope you will join us in welcoming her to the Surgery.
Primary Care Networks
Painswick Surgery has become a member of Stroud Cotswold Primary Care Network (PCN), together with Beeches Green, Rowcroft, Frithwood and Minchinhampton Surgeries.
All surgeries in England have been obliged to join a PCN, and we are very pleased to be working with these other four surgeries.
We remain independent, but are able to employ more staff through the PCN. The first people to be employed will be Clinical pharmacists, who are increasingly working as part of general practice teams. They are highly qualified experts in medicines and can help people in a range of ways, including carrying out structured medication reviews for patients with ongoing health problems.
Our last carers’ meeting in March was a great success. Since then, our colleague Samantha Lloyd, who arranged these meetings, has left the practice to work at a surgery closer to her home. However we are very pleased that two other members of our administration
team will be organising these meetings in the future.
If you are a carer, please ensure that the surgery knows that you are, and we will contact you with the date of the next meeting. A carer is anyone, including children and adults who looks after a family member, partner or friend who needs help because of their illness, frailty, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction and cannot cope without their support. The care they give is unpaid.
We now have nearly 1,200 patients who have registered for online access through Patient Access. This system enables patients to order repeat medication, book appointments and view aspects of their medical records online. We have finally switched off the old system (reached through the practice website), and we hope all users have now registered on Patient Access.
GP Patient Survey
The results of the 2019 GP Patient Survey have now been published at www.gp-patient.co.uk. The GP Patient Survey is an independent survey run by Ipsos MORI on behalf of NHS England. The survey is sent out to over two million people across the UK. The results show how people feel about their GP practice. 242 surveys were sent out to Painswick Surgery patients, of which 134 were sent back. We have studied and discussed the results. Although pleased with some of the responses, there are some aspects that we are looking at, to see if there is anything we can do to improve our patients’ experience. We do encourage feedback and all patients can do this either at the surgery through the Friends and Family survey, or online at www.nhs.uk.
Coil and Gynae clinics
Dr Samantha Kirkham is now doing an additional session every month for IUD fitting followed by a general women’s clinic.
- On the topic of self help and with January 1st looming it is a good time to mention the quite remarkable Healthy Lifestyles Scheme funded by the Gloucester City Council. Patients can self refer to the Healthy Lifestyles Team for help and advice on a range of lifestyle changes including losing weight, stopping smoking, sensible exercise, healthy diet, alcahol and even gambling. It is free of charge and details are available on their website at: Click here - Healthy Lifestyles
- And finally, patients can relieve the pressure on NHS A&E and surgeries over this busy time by appropriately self managing many conditions, gaining confidence at the same time. NHS Direct is now closed but there are a range of sensible self help apps on NHSInform.Scot. These are safe, quite fun to work through and give advice on when to seek help. Click here - NHS Inform.Scot
Change to NHS prescribing of over the counter medicines
NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed a change relating to NHS prescribing of a range of medicines, vitamins and minerals that are available to buy over the counter from pharmacies and supermarkets.
Dr Charles Buckley explains in the video below.