Doctor invites NHS rescue team to BC

A health service team supporting “failing” practices is working in Bishop’s Castle at Dr Adrian Penney’s invitation, Dr Penney told a meeting this week.

The Bishop’s Castle GP was speaking to an audience of about 70 patients at a meeting called by the Bishop’s Castle Patients Group. He said advisors from NHS England had already been to the practice a couple of times and would be visiting again.

Dr Penney implied that he’d been unable so far to recruit new permanent GPs to the practice. Recruitment of clinicians and health staff in Shropshire is very difficult, he said. Some practices had not received a single response to their advertisements, but “we have and replies to our ads”.

He said that ideally the practice would have three full time GPs or four GPs working part-time, plus two nurse practitioners and a pharmacist. Sharing doctors with another practice such as Clun could be a way forward, he suggested.

In response to a question from a patient Dr Penney said he wasn’t looking to recruit a practice manager at the moment. “I don’t believe a practice of this size needs a conventional practice manager. The bottom line is that I take responsibility. A practice manager (spends time at) meetings in Shrewsbury and is dictated to from on high”.

But he indicated that if he was advised to recruit a practice manager by NHS England he would reconsider.

He asked patients to let him know what they believed was needed in the practice, and to be constructive and accepting of the current transition.

He expressed concerns about the morning telephone access hour, where patients can call the surgery and speak to a doctor. “I feel very pressured, it’s a nightmare and it’s not safe. If you need a letter for your exam, please just leave a message so I can check and do it,” he said.

Dr Penney became the sole “partner” at the Bishop’s Castle Medical Practice on 31 January after striking a buy-out deal with his former partners Adrian Fairbanks and Sue Lambert. The partners had been in dispute for three years.

A&E changes

Also at the meeting Caron Morton of the Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group talked about proposed changes in the way health care is provided in the county and beyond. She said that the health service was under severe pressure because of longer life expectancy, more chronic disease, and the squeeze on public spending. The number of people over 80 is expected to double from 3 million to 6 million over the next sixteen years, and the elderly population of Shropshire is  growing faster than in the UK as a whole.

She said the main problem with acute medical services in the county at the moment was not money, but problems in recruiting enough consultants, exacerbated by the fact that they had to work across two sites at the hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford.

The government wants CCGs to develop more walk-in centres for treating urgent but not life-threatening conditions nearer to people’s homes which would reduce the demand for Accident and Emergency services. Shropshire CCG would launch a consultation next year, depending on the outcome of the general election. She was unable to say where any new centres would be located, but agreed that more publicity was needed to advertise existing walk-in centres such as the Ludlow Minor Injury Unit based at the community hospital.

Nick Hutchins, chair of the Bishop’s Castle patients Group steering group, then gave a report of the steering group’s activities. Proposals to hold elections for places on the steering group were rejected by a show of hands from those present at the meeting.

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