My View, Dr Nick Tupper: How we can change to improve the NHS

A generic stock photo of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) reception at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
A generic stock photo of the Accident and Emergency (A&E) reception at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.
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Last year, nearly 5,000 Doncaster people gave their views on local GP services by completing the NHS’s annual patient survey, and the 2016 results were published this month.

Some 83 per cent said their overall experience of their surgery was good – which is a slight decline from the 84 per cent registered in 2015 – but very much in line with how patients have responded nationally.

Around two-thirds of those who responded said they found it easy to get through to a Doncaster practice, slightly less than the previous year but broadly in tune with the national results.

Doncaster’s GP receptionists also scored well, with 87 per cent of respondents saying they found them helpful.

But the survey highlighted that Doncaster patients are not necessarily aware of online services available so check, for example, if you can book appointments electronically at your practice.

I’m pleased my practice – Kingthorne, based on Thorne Road – scored well in the survey as it reflects the efforts all of us based there have put into looking after our patients, as have all Doncaster’s practices. It’s a timely reminder that they are facing challenging times, with more demands placed on them to help reduce the mounting cost and resource pressures the NHS is having to deal with. It’s the same across the rest of the country; you can be sure the discussions we’re having here in Doncaster to try and find the answers will be taking place everywhere from Cumbria to Cornwall.

But I’m convinced that we will find solutions and they will come from front line health workers and those who work with them. NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation I chair when I’m not working at my practice, is taking the lead on this issue. A couple of weeks ago, we and the Local Medical Committee – which looks after the interests of Doncaster GPs and practices – organised a ‘think tank’ session that brought together a range of health workers from local hospitals, surgeries, pharmacies and community teams. They will look how we can work in new ways to solve problems.

GP practices have agreed to think about and investigate the potential benefits of working together and to come back to us with their ideas soon. They can be part of the solution but they cannot do it all on their own, which is why we’re also looking collectively at how health care is delivered across Doncaster and involving the provider organisations and services that make it happen.

They all have a role in finding ways of resolving the NHS’s problems. This is an opportunity to find answers to help make the NHS more resilient in Doncaster, so it can continue to deliver the high quality care we all expect, now and into the future.