PPG Minutes 21st May 2024


1. Present

John Morphy Godber (chair), Paul Matthews, Keith Spurr, Elaine Hooper, Marion Pitt, Paddy Jelen, Shani Storrie.   

By Invitation: Dr Gavin Cattigan and Emma Wilson (Stamford Surgery)


2. Questions to the Practice

The chair had sent questions from members to Emma in advance, to enable surgery staff to give more comprehensive responses. 

2.1. Given the future expansion of Stamford, what plans does the surgery have to cope with a significant increase in patient numbers?
Dr Cattigan said that Lakeside were having discussions with the Lincolnshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), who are responsible for ensuring provision of primary care services. If possible, Lakeside would like to expand to meet any increased need, but the decision does not lie with them. He acknowledged that the current surgeries at Sheep Market and St Mary’s are not able to cope with increased demand. The decision for increased surgery provision does not lie with Lakeside but NHS England and the ICB who can provide funding alongside the developers. The Lakeside CEO is trying to be involved in discussions which are at an early stage.

It is also possible that, if a new surgery is built, the ICB may put the contract out to tender. Lakeside would engage but they have no control over the process or outcome.  

Members were pleased to hear that discussions are happening, because the general feeling among patients is that nobody is doing anything to address the issue of population growth. 

2.2. Veterans: The government has announced an initiative to support veterans. Has Lakeside signed up and publicised it?
Dr Cattigan confirmed that the Stamford surgery was signed up, but he felt that perhaps it had not been adequately publicised.

ACTION: Paul to provide contact information to Emma for veterans’ group.   

2.3. Covid Boosters:  Members asked why Lakeside were not providing jabs locally, which obliges people to travel to Peterborough, Oakham or even Lincoln. There was also a concern over anyone who had been specifically advised to get a vaccination who would find it difficult or impossible to get one. 
Dr Cattigan said that each practice can opt in or out of offering Covid boosters. Stamford surgery had offered winter boosters which can be delivered alongside ‘flu’ vaccinations, which are already routinely given at weekends and do not detract from other services. Not all surgeries in the area do offer winter jabs.  However, demand is lower in Spring and so the difficult decision had been taken not to offer Covid boosters this year.

Keith observed that most providers of Covid boosters are pharmacies and that in Stamford the question is really about why our pharmacies are not offering them. 

Paddy asked if the practice could help to put pressure on local pharmacies or whoever decides on vaccination locations.

Dr Cattigan said that it was the Lincolnshire ICB who have  the responsibility and it is their own community nurses who provide the service in care homes.

Members agreed that the PPG should try to make contact with the ICB.

ACTION: John to explore contacts at the ICB and to discuss the issue with Keith, who is involved with it.
This year’s winter vaccinations will be given in September or October and the PPG were invited to volunteer to help with supporting patients, to aid efficient flow.

ACTION: PPG members to consider if they can help at vaccination time.   
On the specific question of a patient being told to have a booster, Dr Cattigan said that he would look into the case. It is not possible to get an individual dose of the vaccine or to move it around locations, owing to refrigeration requirements. 
ACTION: Paul to advise Dr Cattigan of the specific case for him to look at, and report back.

2.4. St Mary’s Surgery: Members asked if there were any plans to close the surgery. 
Dr Cattigan said that Lakeside intends to carry on working from the building. It is not owned by the practice, being the property of two retired GPs. The building suffers badly from damp and not all the rooms are useable. There is ongoing work to repair damage. There are discussions with the owners about paying for repairs. Lakeside is hoping that if the Stamford developments go ahead they may contain provision for new surgery buildings, which would be better than St Mary’s.

2.5. Prescription Renewals: Some patients had been used to a pharmacy processing their repeat prescriptions on their behalf. However this was no longer possible.
Dr Cattigan said that NHS England had decided in 2017 that the responsibility for ordering repeat prescriptions should be with the patient. This was to avoid unnecessary medications being ordered and piling up in people’s homes. This does not apply to patients who are vulnerable or in care homes. One local pharmacy, however, had continued to provide the service and there are now discussions to bring it into line with all the others.   

Paul reported that the same problem had been experienced at the Sheep Market dispensary. Dr Cattigan said he would raise this at the next dispensary meeting.

ACTION: Dr Cattigan to discuss with Lakeside dispensing staff to ensure they are applying the correct NHS England policy on repeat prescriptions.

2.6. Appointments:
The chair said that some people were confused about the best way to make an appointment. For a long time the only telephone option was to phone at 8 a.m., which sometimes involved a very long wait only to find that all available appointments had been taken. 

Dr Cattigan said that a few months ago, the practice had tried to stagger release of appontments throughout the day, so that people who did not need an urgent consultation could call later. However, patients had complained that they had been told that all available appointments which had been released at 8 a.m had gone and they would need to call back later. This was not always convenient for people, so the surgery had reverted to releasing all available appointments at 8 o’clock.

Ideally, people who can, should use online apps to make appointments and Anima for non urgent  consultations. This frees up telephone lines for people who are not comfortable with technology.  The telephone should always be used for Very Urgent issues. The surgery is contracted to reserve 9 appointments referred from 111. 

Paddy asked what should happen if a patient is told by a GP that they should make a follow up appointment for the future which then makes the patient call every morning at 8 a.m. until they can make an appointment.

Dr Cattigan advised that the best way to deal with this situation would be to prompt the GP to create a “scheduled task” which acts as a reminder on the system for the GP to contact the patient after the appropriate interval to arrange the follow up. This means the patient would not have to take the initiative and make multiple phone calls themselves.

2.7 Any Other business
Anima: Elaine said that she had found Anima very annoying and tedious to use. John suggested that all members should look at Anima and see how they found it to use and report back.

ACTION: All members to try Anima and report back on pros and cons. 

John asked Emma and Gavin if they wished to say anything to the PPG: 

Emma said she would love to see more engagement from PPG members, especially talking to  patients and gathering their feedback and comments and helping to inform them about services they may not be aware of. 

Gavin said he sees the PPG as a “critical friend” working with the practice to improve information and support patients to get a good experience. He would like some feedback on the new surgery website. 

ACTION: All to look at the new website and send comments to the chair.

Gavin and Emma left the meeting. 

John asked for volunteers to do drop ins. Paul said he would look for some dates he could do and email the committee to look for a partner. John encouraged everyone else  to do the same. He would continue to do sessions at Sheep Market with his partner.

ACTION: Members to use our email list to offer times for possible drop-in sessions at either surgery.  

John asked for thoughts on communicating with patients including using social media.   

There were some doubts over Facebook and WhatsApp. Email was probably the best place to start, so long as none of our personal data was exposed and GDPR concerns are addressed.  Keith said that in a previous PPG, there had been a private email list of around 300 people, who received information from the committee and could then share it with their own contacts. This would make a kind of intermediary communications group. 

He proposed that we could produce a card with contact details for the PPG, including an email address and encourage people to give us their emails, in return for being kept informed and up to date with our activities. This idea was generally well received, and John agreed to look at how to make this practical.

ACTION: John to set up an email communications group. 

The meeting ended at 6:30pm