Report concludes performances of Calderdale GPs during the pandemic
The public’s perception about being able to see their GP is completely at odds with how appointments are conducted in reality these days, councillors concerned for patients say.
The pandemic has seen increased use of telephone and video consultations, but, concluded a report by Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), “General Practice in Calderdale has been open and has continued to provide services to their patients throughout the pandemic.”
But members of Calderdale Council’s Adults, Health and Social Care Scrutiny Board said the general public’s perception was at odds with the data and the situation had to change.
One Calderdale doctor, Dr Seema Nagpaul, A GP for 30 years, told councillors she could see from patients’ side where they are coming from.
“They come from the old ways of GP practice, we used to see them all – that’s the General Practices a lot of us remember and want.
“The problem for us as a GP is it’s not like that any more,” she said.
This did not mean services were worse, but they were different, said Dr Nagpaul.
Coun Mike Barnes (Lab, Skircoat) had said to CCG representatives: “The key thing is the perception is that you were closed, the perception is you wanted to move to telephone and non-face to face appointments, including individuals, including people of a certain age, who didn’t have the appropriate technology to be able to do so.”
All 51 councillors had experienced such complaints over the last 12 months, said Coun Barnes, with some as a result hanging up the phone and going to A&E when they should not have done, pressurising that service.
Coun Megan Swift (Lab, Town) said she had dreadful phone calls with people crying saying they had been trying to phone their practice all day and not got through.
Dr Majid Azeb, who is clinical vice-chair of the CCG, said keeping practices COVID safe meant they could also deliver services and there had been a national push to use digital and online technology.
Staff had been dealing with the highest number of appointments in Calderdale since records began and 55 per cent had been face to face, he said.
Chairing the board, Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) said members were appreciative of the work done by practice and NHS staff but were trying to be a critical friend.
“I think communication has been ineffective to the general public.
“From this, one of the action points is to commission a report on how we communicate what you are doing in the future to ensure Joe Bloggs down the street who doesn’t have technology, how does he access a GP surgery, how does he get in to see you, to get the best possible health care,” he said.