Pharmacy First goes live on February 1st, 2024

Starting February 1st, 2024, NHS England has created a new scheme to help ease the pressure on UK General Practice. It is called “Pharmacy First pathways”, encouraging eligible patients to utilise these services for timely and effective care. “Right patient, Right place, Right time, First time”

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Recent media stories re Face to Face appointments

Dear Patients

This is our response to recent media stories being shared locally, which highlights St Paul’s Surgery as having lower face to face appointments ratio vs all other consultation types (telephone, Online, Visits) in comparison to national statistics. Note this isn’t in relation to just GP appointments but all healthcare professional appointments throughout the practice (Nurses, Healthcare Assistants, Pharmacists, Phlebotomists, Mental Health Practitioners, MSK Physios and Social Prescribers)

We do not disagree with the consultation ratio data shared, but without context and only showing one piece of the puzzle, data can be misleading and framed negatively depending on the political aim of the reporters.

The statistics published concern face to face appointments and do not refer to speed of access. By triaging patient requests through the most appropriate route, be that telephone /face to face/referral to other clinicians, we are able to significantly beat the national target of 14 days. Our average routine waiting time at St Pauls is only 3 days

The Winchester City patient demographic is younger, more affluent, working population and generally healthily than the national demographic. Our population wants and needs are therefore somewhat different to the national average which affect how patients are consulted. For example

  1. Most of our Cardiovascular Disease patients (2155) own a home blood pressure machine and would rather share their readings with us online, whereas in other more deprived areas these patients would attend regular blood pressure appointments with a HCA.
  • Due to our population generally being healthier overall, we have less patients on Long Term Condition management registers and therefore require less phlebotomy blood test appointments.
  • Our patient population, in many practice patient surveys have asked for us to provide online or telephone consultations rather than face to face as it fits in with their working lives better and offers more convenience. 

For these reasons and many more, we should not compare against national statistics which show 65% face to face appointments

But instead look at local comparisons which are more inline. 43% face to face

In April 2022 when GP face to face appointments was a political media distraction, we wrote to our patients explaining our pathways, what to expect and why.

  • Patient Convenience  
  • Infection control safety
  • Make Every Contact Count – not feeling rushed
  • Supporting the wider NHS system, early admission to reduce overnight stays
  • Right person, Right place, Right time
  • Reduction of Did Not Attends (DNAs)
  • Car park issues and reducing carbon footprint

We don’t feel Face to Face appointment data is the only item to judge us by as this is only a small part of what we do in General Practice.

What we feel are the best indicators to judge a Practice by are…..

  1. Patient satisfaction results Best in Winchester, Top 10% nationally
  • Our clinical performance and outcomes.  We are within the top 25% best performing centile across the majority of clinical indicators  
  • How quickly you can get an appointment. Our current average waiting time for a Routine GP appointment is 3 working days. Nationally this is 14 days.
  • How sustainable we are as a practice. We are able to recruit clinical staff despite the workforce crisis due to our reputation.
  • Continuity of Care and Proactive Preventative Care rather than Reactive.

Lastly, do face to face appointment stats prove workload. No.  As you can see each year we are dealing with more and more contacts, which is rising at an alarming rate. We can assure you it isn’t easy currently and we can only survive if we work smartly and efficiently.

As a balance to this face to face news article we reference

We constantly review data and patient feedback in a constructive way and use collective feedback to make operational changes to the way we deliver NHS services. We strive for excellence and to cater for patients wishes where able and practical to do so.

Thank you for your support and understanding.

St Pauls Surgery Partners