Patients elsewhere 'would kill' to have the GP access we have in South Tyneside, claim health chiefs

Patients elsewhere in the country ‘would kill for’ the access to GPs on offer in South Tyneside, NHS chiefs have said.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 6:50 pm

According to the latest figures, the 86% of people in the borough rate their practices as ‘Good’ overall, placing it among the top performing areas in the North East.

It is also slightly above the 83% nationally who rated their surgeries ‘Good’, with results also similar in answer to the question of how easy it was to make an appointment.

“People in other parts of the country would kill for such good access to GPs,” said Dr David Hambleton, chief executive of South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

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“The other issue is people’s perceptions of the NHS and for better or worse people associate the NHS with hospitals, even though most patient contact happens outside hospital walls.

“Rightly, people get excited about that stuff, but they don’t get as excited about district nurses.”

Dr Hambleton was speaking at a meeting of the CCG’s Primary care Commissioning Committee, which heard about efforts to boost recruitment and training, as well as the findings from the NHS’s latest GP Patient Survey.

According to the survey’s findings, 77% of patients found it ‘Easy’ to get through to their surgery on the phone, compared to 68%.

And 83% found it easy to use their practice’s website, compared to 77% – although 631 of those who completed the survey in the borough also admitted they hadn’t tried.

Almost 7,000 questionnaires were sent out, of which 2,336, about a third, were returned completed.

CCG bosses also heard about efforts to improve training and recruitment of primary care staff in South Tyneside and efforts to persuade potential recruits not to opt for other areas in the North East.

Matt Brown, the CCG’s director of operations, said managers were trying to follow the successes of the ‘Choose Cumbria’ campaign by working more closely with the ‘Love South Tyneside’ initiative.

Dr Hambleton added: “The ‘Love South Tyneside’ branding is really important because if we’re going to have an impact we need to be talking the borough up, not down – that it’s a great place to live, work and bring up a family.”