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Found 148 results
  1. News Article
    It is ‘not right to normalise’ the current workload in general practice as numbers of GPs and practices goes down, the RCGP chair told delegates at Pulse Live this week. Professor Kamila Hawthorne highlighted the pressure GPs are under with general practice appointments increasing most last year, compared to A&E and outpatients. She also said her priority from a new GP contract would be better resourcing for GPs working in deprived areas. Her speech looked at the challenges facing general practice and imagined what the future could look like, including what the college can do to bring about change. Professor Hawthorne said: ‘The workload that we’re facing – it’s not right to normalise it. The sort of work days that we have in general practice, it is not right to normalise this. ‘The number of GPs is going down because they’re leaving the profession faster than they’re entering it. The number of practices in England is going down, and compared with affluent areas, GPs in deprived areas earn less but see more patients with more chronic illness.’ Read full story Source: Pulse, 21 March 2023
  2. News Article
    More than 175,000 patient appointments and surgeries were postponed this week during the three-day junior doctor walk-out, it has emerged. NHS leaders have warned the strikes were the most disruptive yet with more appointments cancelled across three days than across any of the previous nurse strikes. Data published by the NHS showed in total 181,049 patients had their care postponed, this included more than 5,000 mental health and hundreds of community health appointments. The news comes after nursing and ambulance unions accepted a pay offer from the government, for a 5.3 per cent increase in 2023-24, which their members will now vote on. Read full story Source: The Independent, 18 March 2023
  3. News Article
    Demand for private GPs has soared as patients seek out face-to-face appointments with doctors at short notice. Spire Healthcare, one of the UK’s largest private healthcare providers, saw 32,000 GP appointments booked with it last year – up from 23,000 in 2021. The hospital company, which runs 125 GPs, said revenues from its private doctor appointments rose by 46% in 2022. It said demand was soaring as patients look for “fast access to longer face-to-face appointments with a GP”. On the surge in demand, Spire Healthcare boss Justin Ash told The Telegraph: “Clearly there is a well known problem of GPs being under pressure, the 8am scramble [for appointments] is a thing. People want to be able to book online and they want to be able to book at short notice.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 4 March 2023
  4. Content Article
    Recommendations Healthwatch have set out actions for the government, NHS England and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) to support GP practices and hospitals with referral processes. 1. Do more to understand the referral process: There is currently no published national data collection on where patient referrals fail and bounce back to general practice for a new referral. NHS England should work with Healthwatch England to add questions to the annual GP Patient Survey to understand people's experiences of the referral process. 2. Improve communication with patients: More support should be given to help GP and hospital teams to reduce the numbers of people returning to general practice due to communication failures following a referral. Communications must be accessible. Failed referrals and missed appointments can sometimes be down to patients receiving information in the wrong format. For example, we've heard from blind patients receiving inaccessible referral letters. We recommend that adaptations are made to the e-referral system or other appropriate care record systems to ensure services record people's communication preferences at the point of referral. Services should support people to update them about their communication needs if they change. Communications must be transparent. All parties should have access to the same centralised information about which stage of the referral process the person has progressed to. This includes patients, along with teams in general practice, referral management centres, hospital admissions teams and other parts of the NHS. This could be through planned updates to the NHS App. However, information should also be available and shared with patients via other communication methods, as noted in their care records. Communications must be collaborative. As well as improving channels for the NHS to update patients about their referral, patients must also have access to care navigators in general practice and a single point of contact at their hospital (or another referral setting). This is so patients can give feedback about their condition while waiting for care, including whether they need to cancel or reschedule appointments or quickly chase up a referral if they have not received information about its progress. 3. Invest in NHS admin staff NHS England and the government should work to improve access to general practice by training and hiring more care navigators, staff who can ensure people's needs are met in the right setting the first time. With more care navigators, the future of general practice could become one with fewer long waits on the phone and 24/7 access to online triage systems. And when people do fall into the referrals black hole, they will be able to flag these issues more quickly and access required support as soon as possible.
  5. News Article
    An acute trust has discovered an IT issue which appears to have led to ‘very high’ numbers of patients not turning up for their appointments. Bedfordshire Hospitals Foundation Trust discovered appointment letters were being lost, and not sent to patients, during intermittent server failures, its board was told yesterday. The trust’s “did not attend“ rate has been between 10% and 12% over the last year, compared to the national average of 7%, according to its board papers. The issue relates to patients with appointments booked at Luton and Dunstable Hospital. It is not yet clear how many patients were affected. The trust is now planning to ensure every patient with an appointment booked this year receives a new appointment letter, and an apology if they did not previously receive one. Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 2 February 2023
  6. News Article
    A law student who died after four remote GP consultations might have lived had he been given a face-to-face appointment, a coroner ruled. David Nash, 26, died in November 2020 from a bone infection behind his ear that caused an abscess on the brain. Over a 19-day period leading up to his death, he had four phone consultations with his GP. The coroner, Abigail Combes, said the failure to see him meant he underwent surgery ten hours later than it could have been. Andrew and Anne Nash fought for more than two years to find out whether their son would have lived if he had been seen in person by clinical staff at Burley Park Medical Centre in Leeds. Yesterday they said they were “both saddened and vindicated by the findings that the simple and obvious, necessary step of seeing him in person would have saved his life” and wanted to make sure “others don’t die as David did”. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Times, 21 January 2023
  7. News Article
    "I got my cervical screening letter in November and I've been putting it off because I don't want to do it - I don't think any girl really wants it done to them." Elena Coley Perez is 26 and due to have her first cervical screening - or smear test - that examines the opening to your womb from your vagina. NHS records show 4.6 million women - or 30% of those who are eligible - have never been screened for cervical cancer or are not up to date with their tests. Women are sometimes too embarrassed to come forward or put it off because they are anxious, surveys have found. Struggling to book their tests due to GP backlogs will not help the situation, say charities. Elena has told the BBC she was already worried about having a smear test, and the difficulty she experienced in booking one put her off even more. "I got another letter in December so I went to book online because with my local GP you have to go through this long-winded form," she said. "I typed in cervical screening and nothing was coming up, so I ended up waiting 35 minutes on the phone to be told they had no appointments for the rest of the year and to phone back in the new year." Elena then tried again in January and was told there was no availability. "At this point I was like, 'what's the point?' - you're trying to do something that can hopefully prevent you from getting cancer and you get to the doctor's surgery and you just get a 'no' - it's really off-putting," she says. Read full story Source: BBC News, 25 January 2023 Further resources on the hub: For patients: Having a smear test. What is it about? (Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust) Cervical cancer symptoms (Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust) For staff: RCN guidance: Human papillomavirus (HPV), cervical screening and cervical cancer
  8. Content Article
    Key findings It was identified that action could be taken at all points of the patient pathway to improve the quality of care, with a particular call to alert patients’ ‘usual’ epilepsy team when they present with a seizure. There is a need to improve documentation as, for example, 26.1% patients did not have their anti-seizure medication (ASM) written in their notes. In 38.5% hospitals, specific information or education regarding epilepsy was not routinely provided to patients until their first clinic appointment, which may be many weeks after discharge.
  9. News Article
    Five million people were unable to book a GP appointment in October, analysis of NHS data suggests. The Labour party, which studied figures from the GP Patient Survey, warned the struggle to see a doctor will mean many patients will not have serious medical conditions diagnosed until it is “too late”. According to the survey, some 13.8% of patients, or around one in seven, did not get an appointment the last time they tried to book one. With almost 32 million GP appointments reported in England in October, the party said it means that more than 5 million people could have been unable to book a GP appointment when they tried to make one that month. October saw GP surgeries carry out the highest number of appointments since records began in 2017, despite a depleted work force. Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told Labour List: “Patients are finding it impossible to get a GP appointment when they need one. I’m really worried that among those millions of patients unable to get an appointment, there could be serious conditions going undiagnosed until it’s too late". Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said in a statement: “GPs and their teams are working flat out to deliver the care and services our patients need. GPs want our patients to receive timely and appropriate care, and we share their frustrations when this isn’t happening. But difficulties accessing our services isn’t the fault of GP teams, it’s a consequence of an under-resourced, underfunded, and understaffed service working under unsustainable pressures.” Read full story Source: The Independent, 6 December 2022
  10. News Article
    Plans have been drawn up to avoid the NHS being overwhelmed this winter by encouraging patients to “behave in ways they’ve not experienced before” and cut down on in-person GP visits, the Guardian can reveal. An advertising campaign devised by M&C Saatchi, awarded a contract by NHS England worth up to £28.6m, suggested ways people could be encouraged to settle for a virtual appointment or visit a pharmacist instead. To help reduce the mounting pressures facing medics, documents show the agency also advised patients should be told that seeking help via alternative routes instead of rushing to A&E would help the NHS “work better for everyone”. The three-year contract is for the ad campaign “Help Us Help You”, which seeks to change people’s behaviour when accessing healthcare to reduce pressures on the NHS and maintain capacity. Wes Streeting, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said patients were already cutting back on in-person GP appointments – “not because they don’t need them but they’re finding it impossible to get one”. He told the Guardian: “Among those millions of patients who can’t get an appointment when they need it, there will be problems which go undiagnosed until it’s too late". Read full story Source: The Guardian, 30 November 2022
  11. Content Article
    Safety observation It may be beneficial for NHS care providers to explore options for the translation of written appointment communications, including pre-attendance guidance, for patients whose preferred written language is not English.
  12. News Article
    GP practices can block abusive patients from gaining automatic access to their records online if they pose a ‘risk of harm’ to staff, the Royal College of General Practice has said. Automatic access to patients’ prospective patient records is due to be switched on by the end of this month, following delays related to concerns about patient safety. But the RCGP’s toolkit on access to records said practices can refuse access to online records for patients that pose a risk of harm to others too. The guidance said access should "be refused where there is a clear risk of serious harm to the safety of the patient or members of the practice team, or to the privacy of a third party". It added: "If potentially harmful information cannot be successfully redacted and the practice remains concerned about the safety of record access for an individual patient – or in extreme cases, remains concerned that the patient may react violently to information in the record – then the practice may refuse to give the patient record access or restrict the level of access. "It may be possible to give them access to a reduced part of the record such as the Summary Care Record or restrict access to appointments and repeat prescriptions." The guidance said that records access should only be refused or restricted "after discussion with the practice leads for GP Online Services and Safeguarding or after seeking further professional advice from a local relevant agency or national medical indemnity organisation". Read full story Source: Pulse, 18 November 2022
  13. News Article
    GPs are struggling to cope with as many as 90 appointments and consultations a day – more than three times a recommended safety limit. General practices in England are carrying out more appointments than before the pandemic but face severe workforce shortages. More than 1.45 million patients waited at least 28 days to see a GP in September, according to the most recent NHS figures. GPs who spoke to the Observer last week say that almost every day they breach the BM) guideline of “not more than 25 contacts per day” to deliver safe care. One doctor said he had more than 90 consultations on one day. A conference of local medical committee representatives in England this week will highlight the growing pressures faced in general practice. Surgeries are being urged to impose stricter caps on the number of patient appointments for each GP. One of the proposed motions submitted to the conference by Kensington and Chelsea local medical committee says “focusing on patient safety” is more appropriate than meeting high patient demand. It says the NHS should focus on “safe capacity”. Such a move would mean longer waits for GP appointments, but doctors say it would help safeguard patient care and the welfare of staff in general practice. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 20 November 2022
  14. News Article
    NHS England “forgot the people” when it published controversial guidelines last month which said patients faced being removed from the waiting list if they declined two appointment dates, a senior director has admitted. NHSE elective recovery chief Sir Jim Mackey said the guidance was drafted to address legitimate concerns from trusts, but that the process had been “rushed”. Following Sir Jim’s comments, NHSE told HSJ the guidance, which had sparked widespead criticism including from patient groups, would not be changing. But Sir Jim said NHSE would “spend time” better understanding patients after “reflecting” on the process which had created the controversial guidelines. Speaking at the King’s Fund annual conference, Sir Jim said: “[The guidance] was largely a response to trusts saying to us: ‘We keep offering these patients options and they won’t take them, so what do we do?’ “We rushed through a policy to try and deal with that, and in the process, I think forgot the people…We’ve reflected on that.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 November 2022
  15. News Article
    Patients in England are being put at risk because of the unacceptably poor service they receive from GPs, MPs say. The House of Commons' Health Committee blamed the failure to tackle doctor shortages, which had led to a decline in the GP-patient relationship. Seeing a GP should not be like booking an Uber with a driver you are unlikely to see again, the MPs said. The warning comes just weeks after ministers launched a drive to improve access to GP services. But the cross-party group of MPs said more needed to be done. Louise Ansari, from the patient group Healthwatch England, said, "The impacts of poor access can be huge, with people feeling abandoned and suffering in silence and not getting referred to hospitals for more specialised treatment." Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 October 2022
  16. News Article
    NHS trusts may be forced to cancel appointments and limit visiting times in a Covid and flu “twindemic” this winter, health leaders have warned. Fears have been raised the viruses could strip back the workforce and further increase demand for services during an already busy period. It comes amid rising Covid infections in the UK. Around 1.3 million tested positive in late September, according to the latest figures, which was a 25% increase on the week before. The UK is also concerned there could be a bad flu season this year, with lower immunity across the population due to reduced exposure in the Covid pandemic. NHS leaders have warned that this background could make winter even more difficult for the health service. “I make no bones about this: we know it’s going to be a pressurised time for trusts over the next four months if not longer,” Saffron Cordery from NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, told The Independent. The interim chief executive added: “We’re worried about Covid and we’re worried about flu.” Ms Cordery said these joint pressures – which could increase demand, strip back workforces and introduce the need for greater infection control measures – could have a knock-on effect on services. “We need to anticipate that there may well be cancellations for either outpatient appointments or routine procedures or operations, because there could be staff shortages or rising demand in emergency care – that means that those routine appointments cannot take place as quickly as we’d like,” she said. Read full story Source: The Independent, 8 October 2022
  17. News Article
    Patients with suspected skin and breast cancer have experienced the largest increase in waiting times of everyone urgently referred to a cancer specialist, with 1 in 20 patients now facing the longest waits, analysis of NHS England data shows. Almost 10,000 patients referred by a GP to a cancer specialist had to wait for more than 28 days in July – double the supposed maximum 14-day waiting time. Three-quarters of them were suspected of having skin, breast or lower gastrointestinal cancer, a Guardian analysis has revealed. In total, 53,000 people in England waited more than two weeks to see a cancer specialist. That is 22% of all the patients urgently referred for a cancer appointment by their GPs. Minesh Patel, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said people were waiting “far too long for diagnosis or vital treatment”. Patients “are worried about the impact of these delays on their prognosis and quality of care”. “The NHS has never worked harder,” said Matt Sample, the policy manager at Cancer Research UK, but patients dealing with long waits “reflects a broader picture of some of the worst waits for tests and treatments on record”. “When just a matter of weeks can be enough for some cancers to progress, this is unacceptable.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 2 October 2022