AMG minutes 11th of March 2024

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St Helens Medical Centre

Minutes from the Patient Forum – Annual General Meeting

Monday 11th March 2024

 at 10.30am

In attendance:

Keith Bradford

Tricia Jepson

Susan Atwell

Derek Burt

Diana Tuson

George Weech

Pam Hogg

Peter Dodds

Michael Toulmin

Anthony Smart

Dr Cooney

Summer Gomm

Jolie Hurst (taking minutes)

  1. Welcome

Keith welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologies were given for the below members.

  1. Apologies for absence

Megan Odell, Maurice Dix, and Gay Allen.

  1. Minutes of previous AGM

The minutes were agreed and signed off from the AGM on Monday 13th March 2023.

  1. Matters Arising

Michael Toulmin the editor of Bembridge Parish News Magazine liaises with Jolie each month to put an article or update in the magazine from the surgery.

Keith asked if Jolie knew whether St Helens Parish Council share the newsletter which is emailed to the parish clerks every 3 months. Jolie has since looked at their website and can not see that they share it. Bembridge and Seaview do.

Patients now have full prospective access to their medical records online.

Peter asked whether the text message reminders were working now – Jolie said the issue has unfortunately not been resolved, it is being investigated by SystmOne and Trusted Technology (IT support).

Summer mentioned she has not received any recent telephone complaints.

  1. Chairmans report

To help those of you are not sure of the purpose of the Patient Participation Group, we facilitate good relations between the practice and patients by communicating patient experience, interest and concerns. We offer constructive feedback to the practice on current procedures and any proposed new developments. The PPG worked collectively and positively with the practice to improve services and facilities for patients.

Members of PPG were saddened at the resignation of Jo Bennett, Practice Manager at the end March 2023 who moved on to further employment. The relationship with her and the group was excellent, she always kept the group fully updated with movement of personnel and the situation within the medical centre. I am sure I speak not only for myself, but the rest of the group, that she has been missed.

The good news is that we now have 2 positions in Management, Summer Gomm, who has the responsibly for the daily running of the surgery, staffing, patient complaints, policies and recruitment and Megan Odell who looks after the business side of the centre, forward planning, insurances, policies, and finance.

Since taking up their positions they have attended the group meeting, and I am pleased to say have been very helpful and supportive of the group. Between them they have been able to answer many questions/issues that have been discussed at meetings reporting back to members. The relationship between the practice and the patient representatives is working well. With both parties able to express their views, objectives, and ideas freely.

The group, who are all volunteers, take time every 2 months to attend meetings held at the medical centre where they discuss fully with management any issues that have been brought to light. We have continued to hold meetings at 2 monthly intervals with the Practice, this has enabled us to understand the pressures on the Practice and how staff and doctors have had to adapt to extra responsibilities.

In March 2023, I was re-elected as Chairman, Tricia Jepson, Vice Chairman and Jolie Hurst, Secretary. The tenure under the Group Charter is for 2 years for Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary and therefore no election needs to take place this year.

Having mentioned that elections are not necessary for this year, I would be happy to stand down should a group member have a desire to take over the position of Chairman. I have held this position for some years and might be considered by the group time for a change.

The St Helens Medical Centre Patient Participation Newsletter, was set up in 2022 by Jolie and myself with the first edition published in August 2022. It appears to have been a welcome addition to patients and a way of bringing relevant information and updates within the practice. I am pleased to inform you that the month of March 2024 we are on Issue No 8.

The publication is placed in a file in the waiting rooms at the St Helens surgery and Bembridge also circulated on Facebook online in St Helens, Brading, Bembridge, Seaview and Nettlestone Groups.

Peter Dodd, group member, brought a suggestion to the group that we consider asking the manager of ‘What’s On’ magazine in publishing news from the surgery. It was agreed by the group and Jolie made contact with the manager and agreed that an item will electronically go into the magazine each month. This will consist of things like, surgery updates, staff roles, patient information etc. The magazine is delivered to around 530 people within the surgery’s catchment area.

During the year there have been various issues that have been discussed at the meetings with management. The telephone system at the surgery has been a source of continued complaints and frustration to patients i.e. the length of time having to wait for an answer and often being cut off without an answer. This matter was addressed and monitored by the group over several months and I am pleased to say that the problem seems now to have been improved.

Another small issue was brought to management by George Weech, PPG member, who mentioned that there was no wheelchair available for use at the surgery and I am pleased management acknowledged and there is now one in situ.

We have lost one member from the group recently, but I am pleased to say that we have Anthony Smart in the audience, who requested some time ago to join the group. I would like to say thank you and welcome on board.

I do not wish to bore the meeting with all the things that we have dealt with throughout the year but pleased to report that in all matters they were adequately resolved. 

To those of you who are not aware, all ‘Minutes’ of PPG meetings can be found on the St Helens Medical Centre website.  

Patients can now have online access to their full medical records from the 1st November 2023. You will need to make contact with the surgery to register.

None of us know what 2024 will bring, but I hope that the light at the end of tunnel will grow even brighter. Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to record my personal and grateful thanks to all the PPG members for their continued support and to Jolie for taking the minutes, to Summer, Megan and everybody connected with the Practice during the past year and to wish each and every one of you good health and continued success for the future.

Thank you.

  1. Practice report from Summer

I would like to thank you all for welcoming Megan, our Business Manager and I to the patient forum this year. This year has seen a change in our management structure within the surgery, after saying goodbye to our previous Practice Manager last March. The surgery had taken quite a knock with GPs leaving last year and for the first time we have had to explore utilising locum GPs to maximise our GP appointment capacity. St Helens has always been focused on being a traditionally run family practice, and with salaried GPs leaving it brought new challenges to our traditional way of working. However, in November 2023 we welcomed Dr Poole to our team, creating more stability within our GP team.

We have also welcomed a new Paramedic Debbie to our team and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner Jane. Throughout the year we have maximised our extended team at St Helens, offering more appointment capacity with the additional roles of a Care Coordinator, Pharmacy Technician, MSK Practitioner, Health and Wellbeing Coach and Social Prescribers; a few of which have had the opportunity to meet with our PPG. Moving forward we hope to invite a few more members of the extended team to introduce themselves and their roles to the PPG also.

Throughout the year, the PPG have brought to our attention, ways in which certain services could be utilised or adapted to improve the services we are currently offering our patients.  A frequent complaint mentioned was the issues we were experiencing with our phone lines, with patients frequently being cut off when joining the telephone queue and experiencing a long wait time for their call to be answered. Our patient forum has played a key role in assisting me with improving our telephone system this year, and I would like to thank you all for your contributions. We are continuing to work collaboratively with our phone provider to improve the phone system as and when errors on the line are reported.

Once again, I would like to thank you all for being a part of our PPG, establishing effective communication between our patients and our practice and contributing to the improvements of our service.

  1. Dr Cooney

Dr Cooney spoke about the workforce challenges the surgery has faced over the last year and how he is hopeful to fill GP vacancies, whether that is a partnership or salaried GPs. Dr Cooney expressed how delighted the surgery was in November 2023 when Dr Adam Poole was welcomed as a salaried GP.

Management – excellent progress and achievement of both the Business Manager and Operations Manager to facilitate resilience and stability of the practice through the past year of difficulties. The surgery has seen exceptional support and commitment from all staff in the past year and is confident this will continue.

The surgery is part of the North East IW Primary Care Network (PCN) and through this we can offer patients appointments with a Social Prescriber, Health & Wellbeing Coach, Mental Health Practitioner, Pharmacy Technician, Paramedic, Care Coordinator, General Practice Assistant and an MSK Practitioner. Peter asked what our Pharmacy Technician Sabrina, does, and Sabrina is able to review medications, support patients with medication queries and follow up advice following a hospital discharge. Sabrina supports the prescription clerks, takes a lead with drug switches, and can help with finding alternative medications for patients if the chemist does not have in stock what has been prescribed. Sabrina is not able to prescribe.

Dr Cooney discussed the rising patient expectations and demand for services potentially exceeding capacity. There are fewer GP appointments, mixed with greater demands which then leads to patients feeling frustrated at not being able to get an appointment with who they would like to see. The surgery has on day appointments available every day with either a triaging Practice Nurse, Paramedic, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, or a GP. Patients have the choice of who they would like to see when booking a routine appointment but should expect to wait longer to see their registered GP. Keith asked that patient demand is a newsletter item along with other practitioners’ patients have access to rather than the GPs.

Susan and Derek asked about Medefer. Medefer has specialist online consultants who work online to help reduce patient waiting time and create a more sustainable service. GP referrals are reviewed and managed online by a team of consultants, so patients do not have to wait for an in-person appointment. They support patients from their initial referral from their GP and review their situation to identify the need for further investigation. This allows for patients to be treated and discharged, often without the need for physical outpatient appointments. Derek mentioned his experience with Medefer has been positive. Medefer is commissioned by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust.

Dr Cooney spoke a little about the Integrated Care Board (ICB). The ICB is a statutory NHS organisation to develop partnerships between NHS organisations, local authorities, and other health care providers to work together to plan and deliver cost effective healthcare for the local population. GP representation on the ICB ensures the Isle of Wight has a voice.

Dr Cooney said despite the challenges, in particular, change in management structure and difficulty in GP recruitment, the surgery has maintained and will continue to maintain a sustainable and successful viable practice offering the highest standards of personal and clinical care that can possibly be achieved given the forever changing political and economic strains put upon us.

St Helens Medical Centre Mission Statement

Empowering our community through compassionate personalised healthcare, our GP practice is dedicated to fostering trust and promoting holistic wellbeing. We strive to deliver exceptional medical services with integrity, accessibility and a patient centred approach ensuring the wellbeing and satisfaction of all those we serve.

  1. AOB

Pam said the older generation have seen such a change in how they used to be able to see the same GP, GPs visiting patients at home and now they are offered appointments with different clinicians and GPs. Pam said she thinks the surgery has been amazing in the last year and thanked Dr Cooney and staff.

Peter previously sat on a PPG when he lived on the mainland, he has been very impressed with the relationship between St Helens PPG and the surgery.

Anthony asked if GPs could choose which days they work – Dr Cooney said they can, this is why so many GPs are now locuming as the demand is there for locums to be booked. Dr Cooney works 3 days a week, Dr Briggs and Dr Poole both work 4 days a week.

Derek does some work for Age UK and he finds patients do not understand the triaging system so getting the message out to them would really help.

Face to face appointments were mentioned – Summer explained patients are able to request a face-to-face appointment, but if they specifically would like to see their registered GP, patients may have to wait a little longer.

Keith and on behalf of the PPG, thanked Dr Cooney for attending the meeting and his continued support. Tricia asked that the group gave a round of applause to Dr Cooney and all staff.

Date of next meeting – Monday 13th May 2024

Date of the next AGM – Monday 10th March 2025