• Cllr Jacob Birch

Ward Councillors across Holderness are working together and with the NHS to help improve services

Ward Councillors across Holderness are working together and with the NHS to help improve residents’ experiences of their Primary Health Care including GP services at Hedon, Withernsea and southern Holderness villages

After receiving numerous complaints over several months, all nine elected Councillors representing the Wards of South East, South West and Mid Holderness have been discussing how best to support NHS services during this time of exceptional demand as well as putting the minds of local residents at rest.

The difficulties in arranging GP appointments and even speaking on the telephone have been among the issues raised by local people. Councillors have met with representatives of the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and GP practice to try to identify the key areas, understand the pressures facing the NHS and to discuss opportunities to help in the short time and find longer term solutions.

It was recognised that whilst the new system used by the practice was a benefit to some residents, additional safeguards had to be put in place to ensure that no-one was left behind, particularly those with limited IT skills or even don’t have a computer. The GP practice has continued to offer a blended mix of telephone, online and face to face appointments throughout the pandemic. People are being encouraged by the GP practice to take up the opportunity of digital solutions, where clinically safe and possible, as this will help free up telephone lines and appointments for those with no internet access.

It was agreed that there needed to be improved communications as the new system was obviously not working to the patients’ benefit. Residents need to know how best to navigate their way to speak with the relevant members of staff and that they are satisfied with the outcome. One step in this journey is through the GP receptionist. The more information patients can provide about their query, the sooner the practice can direct them to the appropriate health care professional or service to get the care and treatment needed.

One example of the system requiring improvement includes, when ringing Holderness Health, and accepting the call back option ‘1’. This can be used to keep the resident’s place in the queue and receive a returned call. However, if the call is not returned within 2 hours the system is over-ridden and the connection fails. Therefore, residents have to try to contact the surgery again. In many cases this causes significant frustration and many patients don’t receive the attention they need. The practice is looking at potential ways forward to improve this.

The recent public demonstration in Withernsea emphasised the strength of feeling by many residents but they should rest assured that efforts to improve the present situation are underway and will continue.

It is anticipated that these lengthy discussions that the Ward Members have held with Holderness Health, and the CCG, to ensure a satisfactory service, will result in the required improvements.

Paula South, East Riding of Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group Interim Chief Operating Officer is supportive, saying “We do acknowledge that access times may be higher than we would want and the CCG is working closely with practices throughout the East Riding to do everything we can to improve this. Holderness Health practice staff and other NHS colleagues continue to work tirelessly to provide the best possible care and service for our patients, in these challenging circumstances. We would like to ask everyone for their patience and understanding as we work together to seek solutions to help manage this unprecedented demand.”

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