Just over a year ago, our PPG met to celebrate the first birthday of Jesmond Health Partnership and the many challenges it had overcome to successfully merge The Surgery and Holly Medical Group. At that same session, we also discussed forthcoming changes to the GP landscape and how best to share these with you. Holding open forums was a possibility.
That meeting was on 11th March 2020. The next day the first Covid lockdown was announced. And everything changed. Life as we knew it stopped but the changes to how GP services are delivered didn’t.
New online consultations
By now, most of you will be familiar with Salvie, formerly Ask My GP, our new online system for getting help, advice, and treatment from the doctor of our choice within hours of making contact. Feedback suggests that most of us like the way Salvie works and find it easy and effective to use. We are the only GP practice in Newcastle to introduce this system rather than eConsult. We are also the only practice to have “kept (its) doors open/unlocked” and “continued to provide significant numbers of face-to-face appointments and carry out home visits throughout the pandemic“.
Primary Care Networks
Another big change – the one we were discussing in 2020 – has been the introduction of Primary Care Networks (PCN)s to our healthcare system as part of NHS long term plans. PCNs are small groups of GP practices that work together with local health and social care providers to coordinate and deliver services co-operatively.
There are 7 PCNs in Newcastle. We belong to the Jesmond Lower Gosforth Primary Care Network along with The Grove Medical Group, Roseworth Surgery and Avenue Surgery. We are excited by the PCN’s potential to develop new healthcare initiatives specific to our community. Early actions include the recruitment of a Clinical Pharmacist to monitor patient medications. a Social Prescribing Link Worker to support social aspects of patient healthcare and two Health and Well Being coaches. Further appointments may include physiotherapists, paramedics and physician associates. We will keep you updated with developments as they happen.
As lockdown lifts and more and more of us are getting vaccinated, life is beginning to feel a bit more normal. Over the pandemic, we have seen some wonderful community initiatives like the global bear hunt inspired by Michael Rosen’s classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. Stuffed teddies and other animals appeared perched in windows to be spied and discovered by delighted children (and adults) on family walks.
JHP has played its part in the runaway success of vaccinations in Newcastle. The system has been efficiently and effectively managed for us by some very tired and hard-pressed staff at the practice to whom we owe a big “Thank you” for their tireless work and dedication.
The sad losses and ongoing problems some people are still experiencing after an attack of Covid starkly show us how important being vaccinated is. It’s so reassuring to know that after the second dose, our chances of becoming sick, being seriously ill or dying, having long term problems, or even passing the infection to loved ones is so dramatically reduced.
Despite this, we need to continue with the safety measures of social distancing, wearing face masks and using sanitiser regularly for now. And we need to encourage everyone to get vaccinated when their turn comes so that everyone is safe. Once vaccinated, we can do more things, more safely, both outdoors and soon indoors.
As restrictions lift, we hope to be able to pick up on some of those activities that we pencilled in last year, like open meetings to share with you PCN and JHP news. Keep an eye on the JHP website or this blog to find out what is coming up. I hope to see or hear from you there.