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Putting patient need first: what you had to say


27 April 2012

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Managing patient demand and delivering against their expectation is often a thorny subject for GPs and practice managers.

Recently, Dr Rupert Dunbar-Rees, a former GP and Director of Healthcare Advisory at BDO Alliance, told GP Business that practices have to go "back to basics", if they want to better manage patient demand.

Managing patient demand and delivering against their expectation is often a thorny subject for GPs and practice managers.

Recently, Dr Rupert Dunbar-Rees, a former GP and Director of Healthcare Advisory at BDO Alliance, told GP Business that practices have to go "back to basics", if they want to better manage patient demand.

"There is almost a complete disconnect with how capacity is supplied in general practice and what the patient demand is," he said.

Meanwhile Josiane Wadey, a practice manager who sits on the Practice Management Network Steering Group for the NAPC expressed her belief that practice managers need to "lower the expectations of patients" and "educate them" to make better choices. 

 

So, are patients demanding too much or should the onus lie with practices themselves to do a better job of understanding (and educating) their patients?

Here is just a taste of the feedback you gave us…

Patients need to be educated re DNA and self-management for minor ailments. “Sneezing twice” does not warrant a doctor’s appointment and doctors cannot put all the ills of society right with a pill. They are not responsible for government, social services, housing officers decisions etc. For many issues that the GP is consulted for the answer is if you want a helping hand start with the one on the end of your own arm.– Anonymous

“At one point we were managing in excess of 400 calls every day and offering over 250 appointments a day, but wasn't enough to cope with demand. We try to promote how to access our services appropriately, but this needs to be reinforced at a national level, alongside a clear message about our limited resources" – Tracey Osborne, Sussex

“The NHS is NOT free. Every consultation in any setting costs money. Would patients be more thoughtful if for example they were advised of the cost of their attendance? The other question I would ask is what are GPs themselves doing to correct "over demanding" or "inappropriate" GP access?" – Steve Cribb, Hove

"If we are not more pro-active in our approach to this, quality will suffer. The compulsory registration to the Care Quality Commission will add to the pressure of us providing a safe and excellent service and with demand by patients increasing, we may all struggle to maintain a safe standard." – Jane De Jong, West Sussex

"As a centre that "enjoys" an average of 300 DNAs each month, I think we should go further, and I say that we should be allowed to charge a fixed fee for every failed appointment where we have not had reasonable advance notice. The voluntary sector is, however, as stretched financially and by a lack of resources as we are, so suggesting we pass work over to them is a bit like Secondary Care dumping any work they cannot handle down to GPs – and we do complain bitterly about that!" – Alan Moore, Cheshire

"Patients are no longer willing to wait, and expect everything done immediately. I do think we need to educate patients on when to call the doctor or when to call a pharmacist. I also think more information should be given to patients on how the new Health Bill will affect patients – the truth though; not what they read in the papers." – Sandy Maslen, West Sussex

“As a GP I may be in the minority here. Although I don't agree entirely with Dr Dunbar-Rees,  I am of the opinion that practices can certainly be doing more for the patients – at the very least by keeping them informed of what requires them to come in to get checked.” – Anonymous

"Having more GPs is certainly not the answer. I would agree some 'back to basics' principles can be applied here with re-education and at times a transparent honest explanation, delivered professionally. Patients need re-educating and the dependency culture must change as we are all responsible for change to take place — not just GPs." – V. Henry, North London

"More GPs will obviously help – but at a high cost. Bringing down the level of DNAs significantly would provide immediate relief and, for us, would mean an 8% increase in use of doctor time. Perhaps a national campaign to educate patients to 'cancel it – don't waste it' if the appointment is no longer required is, is what is needed now (at a much lower cost to the DH than bringing in more GPs!)" – Mike, Derby

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