The Pandemic, for better or worse, has changed the way lots of organisations operate.  This is certainly true for NHS, where it has had a profound effect on General Practice. 

With more and more patients contacting their GP online this now allows you to leave a virtual version of an ‘answerphone message’ at any time, and we’ll call you back. No more frequent calls to the surgery, trying to book a convenient appointment in six weeks time, or waiting for the receptionists to re-open. 

We stayed open and available to patients all the way through all lockdowns. We are proud that patient access and patient satisfaction has not only improved but we have also efficiently delivered the new Covid vaccine programme while addressing the patient backlog caused by temporary health service disruption. 

We were therefore delighted to welcome Maggie MacIsaac, Chief Executive of Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG to Living Well to witness first hand how we provide care for our patients. Maggie is responsible for bringing teams of health professionals together from a wide variety of specialties to plan a seamless healthcare service across Southampton and Hampshire. General Practice receives less than 8% of the NHS budget yet sees 90% of the patient contacts. It is vital that our health board have a good understanding of the pressures facing GP surgeries. 

In our clinical control room Maggie saw how we coordinate approximately 2,000 phone calls and 2,500 incoming eConsults each week. She followed our process for allocating eConsults as return calls, text messages, home visits, face-to-face or video consultations to our clinicians on the ground across our surgeries to ensure all patients get a quick response. She also saw first hand the volume of letters, prescriptions, results, medical reports, summarising of notes and red tape that has to be handled quickly yet safely on a daily basis, and how we monitor our overall performance. 

Maggie said, “I spent a really good morning, a busy Monday morning, last week out with the Living Well Partnership team, seeing first hand how they manage their workflow and how their teams work together. They have gone completely to using eConsult which is really great as a digital trailblazer. It was really good to hear the grumbles, the things that make things more difficult, and it was really good to see the days of people waiting endlessly in waiting rooms because appointments are not very well managed are really gone.”

Maggie also heard about some of our exciting plans for the future that continue to improve services for our patients. These include a wider range of professional disciplines in our team, such as physiotherapists.

As a partnership we are fully committed to working closely with our health leaders and community partners to make sure our patients get the best of their local NHS.