Welcoming Decem-Burr

The evenings are drawing in, and the media are once again focusing on the impending NHS winter pressure.As I left my house this morning, with the first frost on the ground, I got into my car and tuned my car radio to Radio Suffolk, as I often do.

The discussion topic for the day is winter pressures on the NHS (again!), and I’m not at all surprised to hear that the focus is on secondary care.

Although hospitals and the A&E crisis tends to plaster the news headlines, we know that the vast majority of NHS patient interactions take place in general practice.

Our emergency care colleagues are, of course, working under enormous strains, but when the message to patients is “Don’t go to A&E, go to your GP instead”, the end result is that primary care manages the bulk of this.

I was surprised and pleased this time to hear recognition that GPs are under strain as well. There was advice to consider whether a visit to the pharmacy might help. I hope that the message is getting through to our colleagues and our patients.

I wonder if we should try to change the common phrase “go and see your GP” to “look on your surgery website or contact your surgery”. To try to move the emphasis from the person of a GP to our amazing staff and very informative websites who may better navigate patients to safe and appropriate care.

Home visits

I have watched with interest the discussion about home visits. This is an interesting area of discussion which brings into light patient expectation, differing practice from surgery to surgery and from GP to GP. I’ve always found it fascinating when I read about what GPs used to do on visits, and how they were managed before Out of Hours, or even COOPs.

There are different ways of managing this area which have developed over the past decade – from policies and use of paramedics to managed care home visits. I’m not sure I have a clear idea in my head of how I feel about this yet but I am really interested to see where all these conversations take us.

The NHS may just about have its head above water, but there are an awful lot of people swimming very hard to keep it there – Thank you.