When there’s a chink of light in the dead of winter (and wall to wall NHS crisis on the BBC) we have something to celebrate.
So what did we find so special on Monday this week?
Delighted to be approved for wave 1 of NHS England’s Dynamic Purchasing system for online consultations, which means anyone can select askmyGP for their technology funding.
Happy, but it wasn’t that.
Passed 30,000 patient episodes managed online, breaking new records almost every day which makes askmyGP the fastest growing online system.
Very happy, but not that.
I spoke with Dr TC, who runs a practice of 4,600 patients in a traditional ex-mining community in central Scotland. She had tried for months and failed to recruit a GP, so is running it on 14 sessions (with 2 days a week help). That’s 3,300 patients per GP fte, about 65% more than average.
She explained how they are now up to about 60% of demand online, of which she responds by secure message to about 60%, largely without even a phone call. It means she has time for all the patients’ needs, in the appropriate mode, today, and is on top of demand, feeling in control.
How? There’s no coercion involved, just that the receptionists point the patients to the website, show them where to start and help as needed. If not possible, they’ll take the request by phone. And patients are very very happy.
When we were first in touch in the autumn I was more than a little concerned about the few GP sessions for the list size, and said they’d need to go all out for change. They have, they love it and they are providing a fabulous service. That’s my cause for celebration, because anyone can do it.
Philip Hammond is not going to bung any more money into the NHS. Even if he did, Jeremy Hunt is not going to magic 5,000 GPs out of thin air. (and I submit that it’s immoral to recruit them from nations where doctors are even scarcer).
Patient demand is not going to go away because we tell them to self-care more (we’ve been telling them for decades. They know).
So we have the demand that we have, and the GPs that we have. But by changing the system in every practice in the UK, which is up to every GP in the UK, we can manage.
Indeed we can thrive, like one practice in Lanarkshire.