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Doctors' Practice Manager to face Council

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Tony Martin, the Practice Manager at Hebden Bridge Group Practice, is attending the Hebden Royd Town Council meeting on Weds 25th September at 7.30pm to answer questions from Councillors about widespread public dissatisfaction with the Practice.

The Practice Manager will give a 15 minute presentation, responding to Councillors’ written questions sent to him in advance. There will be a 15 minute follow-up Q&A with Councillors.

The public will not be allowed to make statements or ask questions and the Town Council say they hope not too many members of the public will attend.

The meeting comes in response to NHS campaigner, Jenny Shepherd's appeals to Councillors to help give the public back their health centre, that she made at the May and June Hebden Royd Town Council meetings.

Jenny has told the HebWeb, "I'm glad Councillors have invited the Practice Manager - and I think also Dr Nigel Taylor, the Clinical Director of the new Upper Calder Valley Primary Care Network that covers Hebden Royd and Todmorden.

"But it's a pity that the public can't speak or ask questions at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday. This is unusual.

"The public values our GP practice and most of us want to see it flourish as it used to. Our needs have not gone away but the health care we used to receive seems to be shrinking and we want to know how we can help to restore it."

A year ago Tony Martin explained to local Defend the NHS campaigners why the Practice had ended same day appointments and phone calls and replaced them with the Mytholmroyd walk in centre.

The problems people were experiencing then haven’t gone away. Patients’ current issues with Hebden Bridge Group Practice include:

  • waiting outside Mytholmroyd walk in clinic in the rain and cold for 30 minutes with poorly children,
  • 2-3 hour waits at the crowded walk in clinic, often sitting on the floor
  • being unable to get a follow-up GP appointment following hospital discharge,
  • having to wait 4 weeks for a non-urgent appointment,
  • no continuity of care with a known GP,
  • being physically unable to attend the walk in clinic and so going without any care,
  • not understanding what’s happening with the Hebden Bridge surgery which is like the Marie Celeste
  • a breakdown in care for patients with long term illnesses who can’t attend the walk in as their needs are not deemed to be urgent and can’t any longer get phone consultations when their illness flares up
  • having to explain their illness to a receptionist with no medical training, in public giving up on the practice the list goes on....

Jenny Shepherd adds, "Let’s see what Hebden Bridge Group Practice tells the Council on Wednesday."

In May, local Defend the NHS campaign group, Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS, asked all 70+ GP practices in both areas not to sign the contentious Primary Care Network contract. Morning Star made this their campaign of the week.

However this appeal was ignored and there are now 14 Primary Care Networks in Calderdale and Kirklees, covering all GP practices.

Campaigners say that this massive reorganisation of primary and community health services is supposed make it possible to go ahead with cuts and centralisation of hospital services, by providing safe alternatives to hospital stays and reducing hospital attendance and admissions.

Until the Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield Clinical Commissioning Groups can show this has been achieved, the proposal can’t go ahead to cut hospital beds. This is a key part of the revised plan to turn Calderdale Royal Hospital into an acute and emergency hospital service for the entire population of both Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield, while shrinking Huddersfield Royal Infirmary into a small planned care clinic for patients from both areas, along with outpatients and a walk-in downgraded A&E that will not take ambulance patients.

Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS have posed the following Questions for Tony Martin:

a) In September 2018 you reassured a patient that “there is no change to the arrangement that allows for patients with chronic conditions to ring reception to speak to a GP to have their symptoms recorded or have their medication adjusted, as a part of their care plan.” However, by December 2018, patients were reporting that the Practice was not honouring that commitment. Please will you explain?

b. At the Mytholmroyd walk in clinic, patients report finding themselves in a consultation with a Community Pharmacist who seems to struggle to follow some kind of diagnostic questions checklist and to be well out of their depth in terms of reaching a diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Please comment.

c. Urgent appointments for people with long term conditions who have flare ups - Now that patients who need an urgent appointment are expected to go to the walk in centre, is it still possible for patients with long term conditions who have flare ups to call the Practice directly without having to call NHS 111 or go to the Mytholmroyd walk in centre? (In August 2017 the Practice Manager confirmed in a letter to Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker that they had removed the need for these patients to call NHS 111. Patients told UCV Plain speaker that this had made things much better for them. But comments since then on facebook seem to show things have deteriorate for these patients since then)

d. How has the roll out of NHS111 urgent care access in April affected patients’ access to HB Group Practice consultations? Who is responsible for the period between patients phoning 111 and any face to face assessment? Who is responsible, if triage / self care advice or signposting proves insufficient or inaccurate?

e. From October 2019 onwards NHS 111 will be able to refer patients requiring minor/ lower acuity advice and treatment to community pharmacy. What arrangements if any has Hebden Royd Group Practice made for this change?

f. What further changes are likely to patients’ ability to access face to face GP consultations, once the ‘digital by default’ processes for getting advice from GPs online, by skype and by apps are in place. And what is the time scale for this?

g. GP referrals to CHFT - are Hebden Bridge GPs able to book CHFT services including 2 week cancer referrals, or do GPs’ referrals go to ‘defer to provider’? The reason for this question is that we have heard from GPs in other practices that there is no visible appointment on Choose and Book, meaning CHFT is in charge of booking, not the patient or GP. People then face a wait to be contacted by CHFT and offered an appointment in 6/12 months. This is leading to lots of self-funding private treatment, including by Hebden Royd patients who can afford it. Once-accessible services like cardiology, respiratory, gastro now have 6 month waits. Please comment.

h. Effect of Primary Care Network contract on continuity of care - the Primary Care Network contract seems to require GPs to limit their consultations to patients with complex needs, and for new grades of allied health professionals to see the rest. Is this the case in Hebden Bridge Group Practice? What are the HB GP plans to employ new grades of allied health professionals? How will the PCN contract affect continuity of care?

i. Is CHFT able to access GP patient records? At the Brighouse Stakeholder engagement event in June about the revised plans for reconfiguring hospital services and moving care into the community, Dr Nigel Taylor said that CHFT staff were unable to access GP patient records because the CHFT staff had not been trained in how to do this. Has this problem been solved yet?

j. Ditto YAS paramedics - can they access patient records when they follow the Hear See Treat model and treat patients without taking them to A&E? We have heard of Hebden Bridge patients who’ve been treated inappropriately by YAS because they’ve not been able to access patients’ records and so have not known what the patients’ problem is or what treatment they receive routinely and when their condition flares up, and have not believed patients when they’ve told them. Please comment.

k. Calderdale Councillors Steve Sweeney and Jane Scullion have been allocated as Councillor members of the Upper Calder Valley PCN Board. What is their role? And are the PCN Board meetings open to the public? Are their agendas, minutes and papers published? If so, where? If not, why not?

See also

HebWeb Forum: Hebden Bridge Group Practice (Jan-Sept 2019)