Cervical screening at a time to suit you

Cervical screening at a time to suit you

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Women from Redcar & Cleveland and Middlesbrough are now able to attend their cervical screening appointments on evenings and weekends thanks to a new arrangement between the two local authorities and South Tees Access Response (STAR) extended hours GP centres.

Cervical screening, also known as a smear test, is a free, simple, routine test available to all women aged 25 to 64, every three to five years.

Cervical screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing in the UK, yet one in four women do not attend cervical screening when invited, normally due to fear or embarrassment or not understanding its importance.

Many women are also put off attending due to GP appointments being unavailable at times convenient to them.  It is hoped  uptake will increase now that women can schedule their appointments on evenings or weekends at one of four local centres.

Appointments are available from 6.30pm to 9.30pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 9.30pm on weekends in one of the four extended hours GP centres which are based at:

  • Redcar Primary Care Hospital
  • East Cleveland Hospital, Brotton
  • One Life Centre, Middlesbrough
  • North Ormesby Health Village

Appointments should be made through the patient’s own GP practice.    

Edward Kunonga, Director of Public Health for Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland Councils said: “Cervical screening is the best way for women to protect themselves from cervical cancer. The screening programme saves thousands of lives every year, yet many women do not attend their appointments – we hope that offering more convenient appointment times will make it much easier for women to attend these essential screenings.”

Dr Andrew Threadgold, Clinical Director of the Star Service said: “Our service is very keen to provide GP services to the harder to reach patients in the region such as those who work full time or have other commitments. Given the importance of Cervical Screening and its low uptake we are delighted to be able to offer these clinics for our patients and we hope to roll out further services in the future.’”

For more information on cervical screening speak to your GP or click here

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