Latest News – 21st January 2015
There are several subjects to cover this month; as usual there is a lot going on in the NHS! If you have any queries please feel to discuss with me.
Dr Tanja Buchner leaving Smallbrook
My first item is to report the sad news that Dr Tanja Buchner will be leaving Smallbrook at the end of February. Her last day with us will be February 25th. I know that all the staff here at Smallbrook will miss her greatly and I have no doubt that will be the case for her patients also. I do not have any information to offer at this time regarding our plans for her replacement. It is astonishingly difficult to recruit GPs at the moment but please be assured that I will be doing all I can to ensure the smooth running of the practice. I will be posting the information as soon as I have anything definitive to announce.
Would you like to play a part in the future of Smallbrook? You may recall I wrote to you recently regarding the Friends and Family Test which has now begun in earnest. The intention is that I will be able to use of these responses to make an assessment of possible changes we can make to the running of the surgery, such that our patients can be involved with “the range, shape and quality of services provided by their practice.”
This is not the only option. We have in the past had a Patient Participation Group who I have been able to discuss this with. They have been able to direct me to their concerns and then we have taken part in a discussion process to see what – if anything – I can do to improve the surgery. It would be useful to have this again and I would ask that anyone who would like to be involved to contact me with this information, or let a member of the reception team know. Even if you have previously been part of this group please could you let me know if you wish to continue to do so.
Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Patient Confidentiality
Some of you may be aware of the CQC’s work through their investigations of NHS Trust Hospitals and Care Homes. They now have their sights trained on GP surgeries and started the inspections last year. This knowledge has focussed our attention in trying to ensure we meet their requirements in a wide variety of areas within the surgery, and rightly so. One particular area has led to a number of discussions with some of our patients and this is the matter of Patient Confidentiality. The CQC has highlighted this area as one that all surgeries need to be especially careful with, for example (but not limited to these):
We are not able to confirm to Mrs. X that Mr. X has had his appointment and left the surgery 10 minutes ago.
We cannot confirm to Mum Y that her 18 year old Son requested his medication.
We cannot phone Mr Z and leave a message with his partner/wife regarding his appointment at the surgery.
We cannot talk to a daughter about her elderly mother’s medical condition.
In truth this is something we have occasionally done in the past, and now that we are not able to do so has it caused confusion and annoyance. The only way we can share this type of information is if we receive express permission from the patient themselves. Therefore I would ask anyone in this situation; or who feels the situation might arise; to let us know either in writing, or verbally, that they give us their permission to talk to their partners/spouses, family members or next door neighbour about matters relating to their health. We will then add that information to our records and so will be able to advise your spouse, for example, the time/date of your appointment, or discuss more medical/clinical matters.
A patient’s medical records are highly confidential and it is appropriate that we take this firm line. I know that it can seem bureaucratic and tiresome but I would ask for your understanding on this.
Online Access to Patient Records
All surgeries are being tasked with expanding the options for patients to use electronic means to communicate with the practice. Thus far patients have access to make/cancel appointments and request their repeat medications. There is also an option to send us messages via these routes. The next stage is to make the necessary changes so that patients can access their own medical records online. The initial stage requires that patients are able to view any medications, allergies and adverse reactions they have recorded on their notes. I will admit that Smallbrook has not been as quick on the uptake as we might have been with this process, but we are still within our timescale to meet this requirement by the end of March 2015.
The plans are to extend what can be viewed by a patient and I will be doing this in conjunction with the participation group I mentioned above. This is not a straightforward matter. Any patient is already entitled to view their notes but whenever such a request is made it requires a member of the practice staff to go through all the paper notes and those held on computer to ensure that no reference is made to any third parties. This would be the same for online records over and above those specific areas listed.
My plans are to make the medications, allergies and adverse reactions available for patients to view in the next few weeks, and I will be advising further via email and also in the Waiting Room. Any patient wishing to take-up this option at that stage will need to contact the surgery so their record can be updated with this function.
To further publicise the Sound Doctor. This is an organisation working in conjunction with Wiltshire Council. The idea is that patients are given advice/guidance which can help them to better understand their condition allowing more control of that condition and subsequently enjoy a better quality of life. The website currently offers advice on COPD, back pain and weight management, with more conditions being added as time goes on. There are leaflets in the Waiting room explaining how you start with this process, essentially you will have to register with the Sound Doctor and can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of your GP and surgery name, and the condition you would like to access. They will respond with an email containing the appropriate link. The feedback has been very positive.
Do you have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or Diabetes?
Wiltshire County Council have teamed-up with ‘the Sound doctor’ to help our patients to understand and better manage these conditions. The Sound Doctor website has a number of short videos giving practical advice from patients and some of the country’s leading experts. There are chatrooms you can join to share your experience and advice. You can register free by emailing email@example.com with your name, your GP and practice name and the conditions you would like to access.
The Sound Doctor will provide you with a unique user name and password and you can then access all the videos by visiting www.thesounddoctor.org