GPs are the backbone of the NHS – and right now they need our support and understanding more than ever.
The pressure on all areas of the health and care system has been almost unprecedented over the recent period and when we hear patients and members of the public expressing frustration, we understand.
But, as a leadership team in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin (STW), we stand squarely alongside our GPs and their colleagues working in primary care.
Whether it is caring for patients, supporting the vaccination service or a multitude of other jobs, they are working long hours to care for everyone within our communities.
Do not let frustrations allow the truth to be distorted. We get emails and letters telling us that GPs will not see patients face-to-face. That is not true. Indeed, the latest figures show our GPs here in STW are carrying out about six in every 10 appointments in person. The message is loud and clear: if you clinically need to be seen face-to-face then you will be.
We know sometimes it can be difficult to get through on the phone or to get an appointment as soon as you might like it. We are working hard to improve this, and we have more to do.
However, we are still fighting a pandemic. Coronavirus has not gone away and there are currently more people seriously unwell in hospital with covid than there have been in some time. That means we must put suitable infection prevention and control measures in place to protect our most vulnerable patients, and indeed our workforce. That is the case in our hospitals, our care homes – and of course our GP surgeries.
So what can you do to help?
Well, for a start please be kind to health and care staff – not just to your GP, but also the receptionist taking your call who is trained to ask you appropriate triage questions, and the Practice Nurse who may be able to treat you effectively and more quickly than your doctor.
Consider what care is right for you. Do you need to go to your GP? Many common conditions can be treated through self-care or a quick trip to your skilled local pharmacy.
Our GP colleagues are working long hours to care for you and for those you love. It saddens us to see them bearing the brunt of frustrations that are not of their making.
Please: remember that they are people just like the rest of us. We need them and we would like more of them. However, we are fortunate to have them.
Mark Brandreth – STW CCG Interim Accountable Officer/ICS Executive Lead
John Pepper – Chair – STW CCG