Tag Archives: GPs

NHS care – know what your choices are

The government is committed to giving you greater choice over how you receive your NHS health care. A new NHS guide sets out some of the options available to you. It explains:

• when you have choices about your health care

• where to get more information to help you choose

• how to complain if you are not offered a choice.

A new NHS guide sets out some of the options available to you.

In some situations you have legal rights to choice: in other circumstances you do not have a legal right, but you should be offered choices about your care, depending on what is available locally.

To find out what the options are, follow the links:

• My NHS care: what choices are available to me?

• Choosing your GP and GP practice

• Choosing where to go for your first appointment as an outpatient

• Asking to change hospital if you have to wait longer than the maximum waiting time

• Choosing who carries out a specialist test

• Choosing maternity services

• Choosing services provided in the community

• Choosing to have a personal health budget

General practice in England nearing ‘saturation point’…

You, the people of England are visiting your GP more often and are having longer consultations than you were in 2007, according to a study in The Lancet.

We now spend more time with our GP

The study warns the increases are unsustainable, and that general practice in England could be reaching saturation point. So making your local pharmacy your first point of call could be even more practical and sensible than ever!

The pressures have not been eased by the fact that recruitment of new GPs and nurses remains low while the population steadily increases.

The study was based on an analysis of more than 100 million GP and nurse consultations at 398 general practices in England between 2007 and 2014 – equivalent to 4.5 per cent of all GP practices in England.

Between 2007 and 2014, the average number of annual consultations (face-to-face, telephone and home visits) per patient rose by 13.67% for doctors and 2.76% for nurses. Average consultation times also increased by 5% from 8.45 minutes in 2007 to 8.86 minutes in 2014.

Busting the myths about primary care

Increasing GP numbers alone will not solve problems in primary care. So says the NHS Confederation, which says that healthcare in the community should be universally accessible and supplied by a multi-professional team.

Primary care includes your community pharmacy, high street opticians and dental practices as well as GPs.

Are more GPs the answer?

It is a myth that A&E is the first port of call for most patients. Around 90 per cent of care takes place in the community. While demand for GP services rose by 13 per cent between 2008 and 2013/14, consultations with nurses rose by 8 per cent and with other primary care professionals, including pharmacists, by 18 per cent.

It is also a myth that primary care is only used by patients with minor ailments. A significant percentage of GP workload relates to managing long-term conditions, such as diabetes, or cardiac disease in the over 65s. Some 60 per cent of this last group will have more than 12 GP visits per year and have over 24 items dispensed in their local pharmacy.

Could pharmacists reduce the pressure on GPs?

Pharmacists to the rescue!

Radical proposals to ease the pressures on family doctors have been proposed by the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society which could see a pharmacist in every GP surgery.


GPs and their teams are estimated to make 370 million patient consultations this year. This is 70 million more than five years ago, but as demand has risen the number of GPs in England has remained pretty much the same.

By contrast there is currently an over-supply of pharmacists, who train as clinicians for five years – only one year less than a doctor. The suggestion is that they could step in to treat patients directly at the surgery, particularly those with long term conditions and who are taking a number of different medicines.

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, says: “Waiting times for a GP appointment are now a national talking point. Yet we have a ‘hidden army’ of highly-trained pharmacists who could provide a solution.”

But this isn’t going to happen overnight. Your local community pharmacy will be your port of call to see a pharmacist for a while yet.

What is the Care Quality Commission?

You hear the Care Quality Commission (CQC) mentioned quite often in the news these days, so what is it? Basically it is the body that regulates healthcare in England.

So what is it?

It is responsible, for example, for regulating GP practices, out-of-hours services, NHS 111, and dental practices (it does not inspect pharmacies, which have their own regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council).

It is relatively new in this job, only starting in 2013. There are around 8,000 GP practices in England and it plans to have inspected each of these at least once by April 2016.

When inspecting a practice the CQC asks asking five key questions: is it safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs and well led? It will also look at how services are provided to people in specific population groups such as older people and those with long-term conditions or poor mental health.

Practices will be rated as ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires Improvement’, or ‘Inadequate’ for each of the five key questions and for each population group.

Find out more at www.cqc.org.uk