The GP shortage and continued issues accessing a GP appointment were amongst topics discussed at a recent update meeting Chesterfield MP held with bosses at Chesterfield practice Royal Primary Care.
Royal Primary Care is a part of Chesterfield Royal Hospital and they stepped in when crisis struck Holywell Medical Group handed back their GP contracts on four sites in 2015. The group now comprises of three sites in Chesterfield, which are located in Grangewood, Inkersall and Staveley, and two in Clay Cross.
The practice team gave a full appraisal of the current situation to Toby. The practice are affected by the national recruitment shortfall of GPs, particularly in deprived areas, where there is often the greatest need.
This shortfall of clinical or non-clinical staff is keenly felt by patients demanding a same-day service. However, the practice were keen to point out the improvements they have made and are continually working on, to improve primary medical care for patients.
Toby said “The Royal Primary Care are clearly working hard to determine where the greatest areas of need are and are actively recruiting to fill the gaps in their provision. Sadly, like many other areas of the country, there is a shortage of permanent GPs to fill the gaps to meet health demand. Government funding is not provided to the areas with the greatest need and this is an issue I will be taking up in parliament. Funding is determined by population but not by levels of deprivation or affluence despite the long established link between poverty and poor health.”
They also discussed the issue of providing state backed indemnity for GPs who commit themselves to permanent jobs in the NHS. Toby said: “We need more GPs to commit to permanent contracts. The Government is investigating providing state backed indemnity to GPs, this may be an opportunity to incentivise more GPs to join up with practices full time which is crucial for the stability and economy of the NHS.”
Recent statistics show that up to 90% of all calls to the practices are answered and up to 80% within 10 minutes. Toby said “Being able to get in touch with your GP practice to make an appointment or enquiry should be straightforward, especially when you are unwell, but patient demand is high at certain times and the practice still estimate that they have 51 fewer appointment slots than they need. I was reassured that the practice are aware of the issues and have plans in place to try and address the shortfall.”
The improvements were recognised by the most recent CQC inspection which had upgraded the previous ‘Inadequate’ grading to ‘Requires Improvement’, and as a result, took Royal Primary Care out of ‘special measures’. They were rated ‘good’ in the Safe and Effective domains. The previous CQC report stated that “The providers had significantly strengthened their leadership and management and had taken a proactive team approach to making and sustaining improvements in quality.”
The next inspection is expected to take place in 2019 and they are continuing to work towards being rated as ‘good’.