Doctors committed to improving out of hours service following CQC inspection

Doctors committed to improving out of hours service following CQC inspection

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Doctors have pledged their commitment to continuing to improve local out of hours GP services after an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted some governance and management processes which required immediate improvements.

The regulator placed South Tees Access Response (STAR) into special measures but  all actions requiring immediate attention have now been addressed.

STAR was set up by local GPs to improve access to GP services outside of normal working hours for patients needing urgent care or advice. Four extended hours GP centres were launched in April 2017 to provide access to GPs from 6pm to 9.30pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 9.30pm on weekends and Bank Holidays.

The service, which has GP centres in Middlesbrough, Redcar, North Ormesby and Brotton, has helped reduce regional A&E attendances and waiting times, and has received excellent feedback from patients for its caring and accessible service – in a recent survey of 200 patients 99.5% said they would recommend STAR.

Elm Alliance, the local GP federation which runs the STAR service, has been working closely with NHS South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group since its launch to develop more robust governance and management processes.

This was accelerated further in July when an unannounced inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) highlighted some governance and management processes which required immediate improvements.

The final report, expected to be published today (11 September 2017) at www.cqc.org.uk, includes positive feedback in relation to patient care – rating the service as “good” for caring – but rates the service as “inadequate” overall.

Following the inspection STAR immediately developed a thorough improvement plan and all actions requiring immediate attention have been addressed.

This includes improvements to medicines management, better equipping vehicles used for home visits and having an improved system in place for recording, reporting and learning from significant events.

Teik Goh, who was appointed ELM Alliance Chief Executive in August 2017, said: “ELM Alliance is absolutely committed to ensuring our patients receive safe, high quality care and a good experience when using the STAR service.

“The organisation accepts the findings of the report and has made immediate improvements and we are now working with both the CQC and our Clinical Commissioning Group to continue to develop the service.”

Patients can request extended hours appointments via their own GP surgery or by calling NHS 111 out of hours.

Making it easier and more convenient to see your local GP

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As a local GP, I know how frustrating it can be at times for patients to get an appointment to see me, particularly if they’re working.

Over the past year, local GPs, working together through the ELM Alliance, have been piloting the STAR scheme across Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, making it easier and more convenient for our patients to access GP appointments seven days a week.

The feedback we’ve received from those who’ve used STAR has been really positive and I’m pleased to say that we have been commissioned to extend this service as part of some important changes to urgent care across the South Tees area.

From this Saturday (1 April), we will have four extended hours GP centres open, offering appointments seven days a week from 6pm to 9.30pm, Monday to Fridays, and 8am to 9.30pm, weekends and bank holidays.
The centres, run by local GPs and nurses, will be at:

  • North Ormesby Health Village
  • Redcar Primary Care Hospital
  • East Cleveland Hospital in Brotton
  • One Life Middlesbrough on Linthorpe Road

It’s important to stress you cannot just walk in. Patients will need to make an appointment either through their own GP surgery or by ringing NHS 111. In the near future, patients will also be able to book appointments on-line.

After 9.30pm, anyone who needs out-of-hours urgent GP support should call NHS 111 who will direct you to the most appropriate service.

Ultimately we hope these changes will enhance the delivery of health and care services provided for the local population and as a group of GP practices, we believe that having high quality, consistent and joined up community-based services will help to alleviate some of the current pressures faced by the NHS.

For you, the patient, it’s about having much greater access to our GPs and nurses as and when you need it and we’ve been working closely with South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group to make people aware of what’s happening.

On a final note, please continue to share your experiences about the service you receive. Your comments – good and bad – can only help us to get better!

Teik Goh – ELM Medical Director

One month to go!

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Seven day access to more GP practice appointments is now just one month away for our patients living in Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland!

From 1 April, we’re moving from two GP hubs to four extended hours GP centres which will be open from 6pm to 9.30pm Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 9.30pm at weekends and bank holidays.

They will continue to be run by local doctors and nurses from the area, who will have access to your patient records.

But people are being urged to ‘Talk before you Walk’ as the centres will operate an appointment-based system – you won’t be able to just walk in.

Our four STAR centres are at:

  • North Ormesby Health Village
  • Redcar Primary Care Hospital
  • One Life Centre in Linthorpe (replacing the existing STAR hub at Linthorpe Surgery)
  • East Cleveland Hospital in Brotton

They will also replace existing walk in centres based at Resolution Health Centre and Eston Grange.

How do I access one of the new centres?

There are a number of ways to make an appointment:

  • Telephone your own GP surgery which has access to appointments in the extended hours GP centres
  • Your own surgery will always try to meet your needs first but if you require an appointment urgently and they can’t fit you in – or if it is more convenient for you to be seen in the evening or at the weekend – they will make an appointment for you at one of the centres
  • Telephone NHS 111 (free phone number) – NHS 111 has access to appointments in normal hours or in the extended hours GP centres. If you need to be seen, they will be able to make you an appointment the same day when appropriate;
  • Access online – if your practice offers online appointment booking, this will be extended to include access to the centres. If you are not sure whether your practice offers online booking, please contact them directly.

If you have an urgent need after 9.30pm when the GP centres are closed, simply call NHS 111 and they will direct you to the most appropriate service.

What will happen to the walk in centres at Resolution and Eston?

As part of NHS South Tees CCG’s changes to offer seven day access to GP services across the four, new extended hours GP centres, the Walk in Centres at North Ormesby (part of Resolution Health Centre) and Eston Grange will close on 31 March 2017.

The GP practice at Resolution will remain open for patients who are registered there.  If you aren’t registered with a GP practice, it’s easy to get registered.  You can find your nearest practice by visiting www.nhs.uk.  Simply contact the GP practice and ask to register with them.

Letting people know about the changes

From March, listen out for our radio campaign on TFM.  We’re also working with Royal Mail to send a handy, four page leaflet to every household in Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland in the coming weeks.  Please keep it in a safe place for you and your family if you need to check where to go for the right treatment.  You can also download the leaflet here.

Dr Janet Walker, Chair of the CCG said: “We are excited to be working with our local Doctors and Nurses to offer our patients 7 day access to GP practice appointments. With four new extended hours GP centres across our patch, that’s an extra 90,000 appointments that will be available from 6pm to 9.30pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 9.30pm at weekends and bank holidays.

“The centres will operate on an appointment-based system – people won’t be able to just walk in, and I would urge people to contact their GP practice in the first instance, or if you’re unsure and need help, call 111 which is free from landlines and mobile phones. Where people need to be seen the same the day, an appointment will made at a time and location that is convenient for them.”