NHS Lambeth Clinical Commissioning Group is currently hosting a BIG Lambeth Health Debate - to find out what local people think about health services - and hear your feedback about what great health services look like, find out what could be better, explore how we improve NHS services while finances are tight and hear your ideas for improvement.
We'd really like to hear from people who live or work in the borough - and you can share your views on Twitter, by online or paper survey, via our forum for debate or by giving us a call... or of course by posting comments here.
Find out more on our website at www.lambethccg.nhs.uk.
If this invite for comment extends to local GP services, I do have a comment. Not a favourable one unfortunately.
Waterloo Health Centre's new system which requires patients to speak to a doctor before they can be given the 'privilege' of a surgery-based appointment isn’t designed to help patients, just to make to things easier for the practice. If, like me and many other people, you work in an open plan office, having to wait for a doctor to call you back and then find a private place to discuss medical issues, is all but impossible. Having no option but to leave the office and stand in the street, doing battle against traffic and building site noise while trying to discuss health issues, isn’t good for your health! What about people who work for companies where mobile use during working hours is against company policy, or who aren’t allowed to receive personal ‘phone calls (and yes, such companies to exist). What about anyone who is hard of hearing? How can the doctor be certain the patient has heard and properly understood what’s been said?
Apart from anything else, surely part of being a doctor is the face to face contact with a patient. A good doctor should be able to pick-up on problems or concerns during a consultation, or a patient may need encouragement to talk about something they find it difficult to discuss. Somehow this seems less likely to happen in the more impersonal medium of a ‘phone line.
I know this sounds like opposition to progress or refusing to accept change, but in fact it isn’t. I have used the ‘phone appointment service in the past, when it was offered as an add-on to the surgery appointment system. This was, however, for relatively minor issues about which I needed advice and / or reassurance. This had the double benefit of saving me time and keeping a surgery appointment free for more urgent cases. In other words, I know that ‘phone appointments can work, but I feel quite strongly that they shouldn’t be the only option available. We, as patients, know how we feel and sometimes you just know you need to see a doctor. We should not have to ‘beg’ for what should be our right.
Thanks for your feedback and I will certainly add your comments into the debate - but primary care services (GPs, dentists, opticians, pharmacies) are commissioned by NHS England rather than local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)- so if for example you had a GP complaint that the practice hasn't adequately dealt with in your view - it is NHS England who would now manage your complaint.
NHS England are currently asking for opinions about GP practices so you could also share your experiences with them.