Agenda item

Update on Primary Care in Sheffield

Report of NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board.



The Sub-Committee received a report of NHS South Yorkshire Integrated Care Board which provided an overview of Primary Medical Services in Sheffield and highlighted the current priorities, challenges and opportunities for primary care in the city.




Present for this item were Abigail Tebbs, (Deputy Director, Primary Care Estates and Digital, NHS South Yorkshire) and Jackie Mills (Chief Finance Officer, Sheffield, NHS South Yorkshire).




Abigail Tebbs stated that the report summarised some of the key issues facing primary care and one of the most pressing issues was around access to services, and the capacity of primary care collectively, not only GPs, to respond to patient need and patient demand and also around how general practices played a part in urgent primary care. She said that workforce recruitment and retention continued to be a significant challenge and NHS South Yorkshire was working with Primary Care Networks to explore opportunities to improve recruitment.  Ms. Tebbs said that the report included immediate short-term actions around winter resilience to support sustainability.




Members of the Sub-Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·                A number of general practices were reliant on contact being made by telephone, therefore requiring a certain number of lines being available and the ability to be able to respond in real time.  NHS South Yorkshire were hoping to offer a sum of money as a grant to be used as one of two options, one was to move from paper records and the other which was proving more popular was to help practices buy themselves out of existing contracts so that they would move to a cloud based telephone system which would provide an infinite number of lines and would be better at managing call queuing, meaning the system would be more able to cope.  It would give practices real time information on the number of callers, so practices would be able to better understand demand.




·                One practice had been funded to move to this type of phone based service and the data on this had allowed the receptionist staff to be on call at busier periods and on quieter times enable them to carry out other duties.




·                Demand rather than need was significantly higher than the number of appointments.  There was no accurate way of measuring demand.




·                Locally, most surgeries operate a system where there were a certain number of appointments offered during the day and then patients would then be placed onto an on call triage list.  The gap between bookable appointments and definite appointments was increasing.  Data nationally and locally shows the number of GP face to face appointments were going up.  It was difficult to say whether there were enough GP appointments on offer.




·                Pre-pandemic, GPs dealt with medical problems, since then there appeared to be more and more social problems, e.g. letters for PIP, problems regarding universal credit, mental health type appointments, housing issues, access to foodbanks etc., were being presented to GPs.  Primary Care was trying to absorb many issues in other areas of care.




·                Work was being done around what can be created around GPs, how support could be given to voluntary and community groups and direct resources to the correct area.




·                Receptionists were key to how practices function and do filter the direction of calls.  The reason receptionists ask the caller what the problem was, was so that they could triage them to the correct area.  A lot was being put into support to recruit and retain receptionists.  Receptionists are given more training than people realise.




The Chair invited Lucy Davies, Healthwatch to provide feedback on GPs services throughout the year.  She said Healthwatch had circulated feedback on GPs and publish each month on its findings.  Every month, feedback showed that access to appointments and the need for appointments was a huge problem for patients.  There has been a steep dip in satisfaction with people having a difficult time in accessing primary care. She felt that it was good to hear development around all systems.




Questions were then asked about the problems faced by people who were autistic and what would happen, given the current energy crisis and the threat of power cuts, was there a back up plan.  Abigail Tebbs responded by saying the NHS were aware of the potential risks and the challenges it presented.  Greater risks were around clinics and systems, however there were ways around this should the need arise.  In the face of pressure, some GPs were choosing different routes.  There was a need to get the message across that other services were available.  Evening appointments were pre-bookable.




The Chair thanked Abigail Tebbs and Jackie Mills for attending the meeting and the Committee noted the report on Primary Care


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