Clinicians in general practice (GP) are currently facing unprecedented demand nationally and Wokingham Borough is no different. The borough is currently experiencing a 40% rise in demand for general practice services as the pandemic continues to ease. However, local residents continue to raise issues with the council about accessing primary care.
While the borough council does not commission GP services, it does have a responsibility to represent the interests of its residents.
In the recent NHS Patient Experience Survey, five of the borough’s GP surgeries sit in the top 10% in the UK, but we are aware that residents’ experiences are inconsistent. The borough council is pushing for improvements and has asked both West Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire (BOB) West Integrated Care System to take urgent action to make improvements but also to improve access to face-to-face consultations.
Cllr Charles Margetts, executive member for adult services and public health, said: “It is very clear that our clinicians in general practice across the borough are working under pressure and facing unprecedented demand. Many of our GPs do an excellent job in difficult circumstances. But we know we have pockets of poor performance as we are hearing it repeatedly from our residents. We have to take action now to improve the situation for our residents both in terms of performance and access and we have challenged both the West Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group and BOB West Integrated Care System to make this a priority.”
While seeing a clinician in general practice is important to many people, there are other options if people feel unwell. Knowing where to go for medical advice or treatment is key and some of the options available to you are below:
- Self-care – care for yourself with a well-stocked medicine cabinet if you have an upset tummy, pain or headache or sore throat (but if more than two weeks or more contact you doctor). For health advice visit the NHS website
- Pharmacists – can offer clinical advice and over the counter-medicines. They can help with minor aches and pains, burns, scalds, headlice, bites and stings, queries about medication dosage, type and suitability plus urgent requests, medication related to hospital discharge and repeat prescriptions
- GP surgery – get help for a condition that has not improved after seeking help from pharmacy, or report urgent non-life threatening conditions or report deteriorating chronic conditions
- Visit the NHS 111 online advice centre or call NHS 111 when the situation is not life threatening and you think you need to go to hospital, you don’t know the most suitable place to go or call, you don’t have a GP to call or if you GP practice is closed, you need advice or reassurance what to do
- Minor injuries – for conditions such as sprains and strains, suspected broken limbs, minor head injuries, cuts and grazes, minor scolds and burns or skin infections
- 999 / Accident and Emergency – very serious or life-threatening situations which can include loss of consciousness, acute confused state fits that are not stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped, severe allergic reactions, severe burns or scald. Call 999 if you think someone is having a stroke or heart attack
Cllr Margetts added: “When you are unwell you often think you need to see a GP but check to see if your symptoms can be managed at home with simple remedies or talk to your local pharmacist. Find out what services are available locally and make sure you have a well-stocked and up-to-date medicine cabinet or first aid kit at home. You might need a repeat prescription or blood pressure taken and this can be done by other primary care practitioners, it doesn’t mean you have to see the GP. By making yourself aware of what is available to you will also help with the demand on clinicians in general practice.”
Any residents who are unhappy about GP services should contact the Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
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