Report: GP services, St Helens

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch St Helens set up the ‘Good Quality GP Services’ task group in February 2015. They wanted to find out what ‘good quality GP service’ actually means to people in St Helens. The survey was conducted from 2nd April 2015 and responses were paused and collated on 19th May 2015. In total there were 672 responses from St Helens residents from online forms and completing paper questionnaires. Further completed questionnaires from respondents in neighbouring boroughs have been anonymised and forwarded to the appropriate local Healthwatch. The survey was sent out to all Healthwatch members, made available on the website, and distributed widely throughout voluntary and public sector partners. Conclusions Healthwatch St Helens felt that the number of response to the questionnaire (672) was significant in illustrating how important GP service are to the people of St Helens. The same consultation methods were used as with previous questionnaires but the number of responses was significantly higher. Clear patterns have emerged through the comments made which reflect many of the issues that are raised with us regularly. Recommendations • GP practices should implement customer service training for all staff. Healthwatch believes this is essential as staff attitudes was a recurring theme throughout the LINk project and remains a current issue today. Although 75% of the respondents told us that all staff at their practice have a friendly and helpful manner, and 71% said that reception staff are friendly, professional and say things privately and discreetly, there were a high number of comments about staff attitudes suggesting that those people who are not happy with practice staff feel strong enough about it to comment. • Raise awareness about support for patients with additional needs. It was clear that few patients are unaware of whether their practice goes the extra mile to support patients with additional needs. This could include BSL interpreters, language line and information in large print • Educate patients about the system in place of not being able to order prescriptions over the telephone. Medicines Management Teams had declared this inappropriate for data protection reasons. However, from our survey it is clear that some people would prefer to order prescriptions over the telephone. This suggests that patients would benefit from clear information that this is not an option and the reasons why. • Keep patients informed about staff training Although some practice managers felt that this was not feasible, others agreed that displaying a sign saying for example, “Last month our staff were trained in equality and diversity’, would not be particularly onerous. It would help patients to feel informed about what practices are doing to improve service and would give some credibility to some practices closing at certain times throughout the week for staff development. Our survey revealed that 34% of people have some awareness around staff training and 41% saying they would like to be. • Increase dementia awareness In collaboration with the St Helens Carers Centre and Alzheimer’s Society, and through previous LINk and Healthwatch work, it has become clear that only a few practices have helpful information about dementia, such as details of support groups. The Alzheimers society has recently visited all practices with up-to-date publicity, so we would expect to see this displayed. • More support required for young carers Previous Healthwatch work has identified that young carers struggle to get appointments which do not clash with school, college or caring responsibilities. We are aware that only 2 practices are currently signed up to the ‘Young People Friendly’ award which is based on the Department of Health ‘You’re Welcome’ quality criteria and we would suggest that all practices consider this.

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General details

Report title 
Report: GP services, St Helens
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch St Helens
Date of publication 
Friday, 27 November, 2015
Date evidence capture began 
Thursday, 2 April, 2015
Date evidence capture finished 
Tuesday, 19 May, 2015
Type of report 
Public opinion
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Complaints procedure
Continuity of care
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities
Integration of services
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Patient records
Quality of appointment
Quality of staffing
Waiting time to be seen once arrived at appointment
Other information of note about this report 
Good Practice
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
Specific ethnicity if known 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Not applicable
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.