News – Page 5

The Calverton Practice Newsletter

The NHS is 70 & Ear Syringing Clinics

Recently the NHS celebrated its 70th Anniversary with some fanfare and many heartfelt accounts of success from patients and staff plus considerable reflection on what the future may hold for what is consistently the most cherished organisation in the UK. Readers of the British Medical Journal were asked to vote on what they felt were the greatest achievements of the NHS. Top of the poll was ‘The provision of care free and at the point of need’, closely followed by ‘Limiting commercial influence on patient care’ and ‘General Practice as the foundation for patient care’. Chair of the Royal College of GPs Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard commenting on the results of the poll re-iterated that ‘General Practice makes the vast majority of patient contacts in the NHS, 90% of the care for 8% of the overall budget, alleviating pressure and delivering care close to home where our patients want it most’.

But other commentators ring warning bells. The role of the NHS has fundamentally changed, at inception it was about caring for the unmet needs of those who previously had been unable to afford care. Generalists prevailed and the service proved a god send for many. Now we have a service increasingly specialised, commercialised and trying to be all things to all. Some sectors of care are thriving and remain as good as anything in the world, others struggle and general practice in particular is described as being in a slow state of ‘understaffed and overworked collapse’.

Many of us still recognise what we do as a ‘vocation’ and few NHS workers fail to ‘go the extra mile’ on regular occasions, however that relies on significant good will, a commodity which can wear thin if pressure is sustained and no light is seen at the end of the tunnel. Here in Calverton we are lucky to have such an amazing team of highly committed professionals. Often patients tell me how strikingly different the service is they get from us compared to their previous surgeries. They comment that staff are friendly, helpful and polite and whilst we know there is pressure on our advanced appointments, our triage service works efficiently and is complimented by our increasingly rare locally treatment room service. I recently checked our recent reviews and ratings on the NHS Choices website. Comments seem polarised between some previous 1* ratings to the more recent 4 consecutive 5* ratings. We hope the latter more accurately reflects what you our patients feel about us. Certainly the regular letters and comments and even the occasional patient bequest suggests that satisfaction prevails and that is certainly what we aspire to. High quality care, delivered locally to those who need us the most, irrespective of any ability to pay and long may that continue!

Other news includes the fact that we are now doing specific spirometry and ear syringing clinics. This is particularly a change to ear syringing which was previously done in our treatment room ‘as and when needed’.  Unfortunately that involved time in setting up the equipment for single patients at a time and it is much more time efficient to see a group of patients and run a clinic.  Increasingly we are experiencing pressure on our treatment room slots and this allows us to prioritise our workload more effectively at a time when many local GP practices have abandoned ear syringing services altogether.

Also, I am pleased to announce this month the return of Dr Petra Richmond (formerly Tomlinson-Cox). Many of you I am sure will remember Petra from her time as a trainee GP about 3 years ago. She joins us replacing Dr Bailey who left some months ago and needless to say we are delighted at her return.  Also joining us is our new Healthcare Assistant Julie Goodacre replacing Pauline Shipman who left us in July. Finally, as many of you will have seen, our building work progresses and we are hopeful that reception will be refurbished and back to normal this month!

Phil Rayner