- Creating a culture of kindness in primary care and helping people understand the range of roles and services in general practice were two key themes
- Proposed improvements included simplifying the way people can contact their practice online and raising awareness of non-medical support to take pressure off GP practices
- Public invited to next Partnership Board meeting this Friday 10 November in Skipton to hear about how the partnership will take ideas forward
Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership recently ran a pioneering event where over 100 people, including public, workforce and leaders from across Bradford and Craven came together to discuss challenges people are facing in GP access and to think collectively about solutions.
The event was part of the organisation’s ‘Listen in’ community involvement programme which has visited 97 different community groups and talked to people in public settings across Bradford District and Craven over the past year.
‘Listen in’ brings decision-makers and wider health and care workers to the heart of communities to hear directly from people about what matters to them and their experiences of health and care. The insight gathered has been published online (https://engagebdc.com/listen-in-bdc) and reported to the Partnership Board, which is the key decision-making body for health and care in Bradford District and Craven.
Throughout the ‘Listen in’ programme, the strongest theme that came up was around challenging patient access to primary care. To take this insight forward, the partnership organised a special event to bring people together to explore this issue in more detail.
A report of the event will be presented at the next Partnership Board meeting which will take place in public this Friday 10 November at Belle Vue Square in Skipton, 10am to 1pm. It is an excellent opportunity for local people to learn more about the work that the partnership is doing to improve health outcomes for the residents of Bradford District and Craven.
During the event, there were stories from a GP practice care navigator and a patient who both had varying viewpoints on the same challenge of calling at 8am for an appointment. People also took part in a true or false quiz about primary care. This included statements such as: “GP practices are offering more appointments than before the COVID-19 pandemic.” Although most people thought it was false, this statement is true: between January 2020 and January 2023, the number of appointments has increased by 12%. In January 2020 there were 361,996 appointments whereas in January 2023 there were 405,754 appointments – and the percentage of total appointments carried out face-to-face currently averages 71%, which is in line with the national average.
People talked about how to make it easier to contact GP practices, how to best support people who come to see their GP practice with non-medical problems, and how to ensure consistency in access for people across Bradford District and Craven. Some of the proposals put forward were: to improve universal online access for patients across Bradford District and Craven, to develop a wellbeing service as an integral part of practices, and to develop and raise awareness of non-medical support to take pressure off GP practices.
The event report highlights the impact of bringing people together to think about these issues, with people taking away both practical information and increased understanding of primary care. For instance, one attendee said: “I learnt that the physio can actually refer you if you need further treatment. I have more understanding of the day-to-day issues.”
People also made pledges about positive actions they will take such as: “I offered my support to raise awareness of all the different specialist roles in primary care;” “I will spread the word about all the great stuff GPs are doing, help people see both sides;” and “I’m going to try to use the online system and when I do call I will be nicer to the receptionist.”
Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership has already established a working group to explore ways to address general practice access challenges – the outputs from the event will influence the work this group takes forward, and the public can get involved by visiting engagebdc.com/listen-in-so-what.
Katie Peacock, from Exclusively Inclusive, a voluntary community group in Skipton, said: “The presentations were excellent, thought-provoking and deeply moving at times. They brought home the many intricate layers of all our experiences and encounters. The most remarkable part of the day was the ‘people power’ approach of ‘voting with our feet.’ It was so empowering to physically stand and move to vote on our views. The entire day was excellent, allowing all of us to contribute fully. It showed a real commitment from the Health and Care Partnership not to simply ‘Listen In’ and ‘think together’ but to act together.”
Dr Louise Clarke, GP at Bevan Healthcare and director of strategy transformation, primary and community at Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership, said: “I had an incredible afternoon at the Listen in event. There was so much energy in the room and fantastic, honest discussions about the challenges and opportunities within GP access. I’m fizzing with ideas we created together and can’t wait to get started.”
Elaine Appelbee, independent chair of Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership, said: “I want to thank each person who stepped forward to share their experience and ideas. Around every table we had the range of different perspectives that gave us the right intelligence. Everybody’s contribution was critical to come up with the right actions to give the best results for communities. People who are usually a bit quiet spoke up to make sure they shared their knowledge and experience; others took care to leave time and space so that every viewpoint was heard. Together all the people in the room came up with positive ideas for us to take forward to help to improve people’s access to GPs.”
Anyone who lives or works in Bradford District and Craven is invited to participate online on EngageBDC: https://engagebdc.com/listen-in-so-what. On the Listen in webpage, people can vote in a poll to say which statement is most important to them and add their thoughts and ideas to the discussion board to help explore solutions.
A local campaign, ‘It’s a GP Practice Thing’ aims to increase public awareness of how practices are working, the range of services offered and the specialist healthcare professionals who are available to meet people’s needs. There are videos and leaflets available in different formats and languages to help people get the best from their GP practice.