The Orchard Medical Practice currently cares for some 11,500 patients from the areas of Broughton Astley and surrounding villages. It has recently initiated the formation of a Patient Participation Group, consisting of some 12 Patients plus representatives of both Doctors and the Practice Management, with a Committee comprising Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, each appointed from the Patient members within the group.
Objectives of the PPG
The PPG seeks to be a voice within the Practice for the Patients, with a view to:
Ø enhancing communication between Patients and the Practice.
Ø promoting health education and awareness to ensure the Practice continues to offer excellent Patient care and service provisions.
Ø discussing suggestions and complaints and looking at ways of implementing any changes to improve Patient care and avoid re-occurrence of events which initiate a complaint.
Ø discussing any other issues considered appropriate that would be beneficial to the Practice population and the Practice.
Steps Taken So Far
The PPG issued a Patient Survey Questionnaire in February 2014, with the aim of obtaining the views of the Patient body as a starting point to opening discussions with the Practice.
1,000 questionnaires were sent out to adult patients, randomly drawn from the area covered by the Practice and throughout the differing age groups. There was a good (almost 40%) response, for which the Practice is very grateful.
From the replies received, it was encouraging to see that some 98% of respondents were satisfied with the overall service and care provisions received from the Practice and 97% satisfied with its premises and facilities. Less encouraging were the responses related to surgery opening hours, with 11% not satisfied with the present hours.
However, from comments added to the questionnaires, it was clear that the greatest cause of dissatisfaction was related to appointments, with some 15% of respondents expressing their concern at being unable to obtain an appointment with a specified Doctor at a time suitable to them. This in turn appeared to reflect directly on the Reception Team, with some 5% of respondents expressing dissatisfaction with that team.
On a more positive note, Doctors and Nursing Staff were in the main praised for their effectiveness, with just 1% of respondents expressing some level of dissatisfaction.
Conclusions and Actions
A written report summarising the questionnaire responses and comments has been presented to and discussed with the Doctors and Management of the Practice. As a result, steps are being taken to alleviate some of the problem areas identified.
Changes have been made to increase the Nursing and Phlebotomy Clinics’ hours, which has increased the number of available appointments. This in turn will free up more available appointments for the Minor Illness Nurse and the GP's. More Phlebotomy appointments have been allocated at the Branch Surgery in Ullesthorpe on a Wednesday morning. In addition, early morning (from 7.30am) Phlebotomy appointments are available at Broughton Astley on Tuesdays.
It was noted, from questionnaire comments received, that Reception staff, by virtue of their position as “first point of contact” and perceived inability to provide and make suitable appointments, are seen by some Patients as being unhelpful. However, it is accepted that they are only able to apply the appointment system in the way it is currently set up. Therefore further discussion is required on if and/or how the current system may be changed for the better.
The problem of appointment availability is exacerbated by the number of patients who do not attend appointments previously made, thus creating a very significant loss of consulting hours. Patients are therefore asked, where possible, to cancel appointments no longer required or necessary, so that these can be released for the benefit of other Patients. The Practice is looking at ways in which reminders of forthcoming appointments – for example, by text message – could play a part in reducing the number of missed appointments.
Practice Web Site and Other Communications
Those patients having access to the internet should note that the Practice website is now “up and running” and can be accessed at www.theorchardmedicalpractice.co.uk . This website contains a great deal of information about the Practice and related health matters and will be regularly updated with relevant information to keep the Patient community advised. A copy of the Patient Survey Questionnaire summary report is now available for viewing from within this website.
For those who do not have access to the internet, there is a quarterly newsletter produced by the Practice which can be found on the surgery reception desk. Steps will be taken to circulate to Patients by other means, possibly through Broughton Matters or other “free” papers in circulation within the neighbourhood. Those patients not resident within Broughton Astley are encouraged to ask at Reception.