GP service needs to be more responsive!

Harrow GP surgeries to offer high quality services which meet users demands, manage expectations and be responsive to meet the needs of the different communities in Harrow, finds the Healthwatch Harrow, commissioned by the Harrow council ‘to gain an understanding of patients and service users experience of GP services within the borough’.
Healthwatch research report recommends that surgeries address patients’ frustrations as many lack awareness of the health care services or how to access these or how to complain about their GP.
What we know and understand reinforces the research findings in many ways.
Adding to what the research has found, there is the performance related tick-box culture more to meet the inspection criteria for favourable CQC findings in a competitive health market.
In some cases, the management of a practice requires improvement (a failing category) because of the implications of the senior partner(s) running more than one practices or preoccupied with securing more resources. Their infrequent presence at the practice results in the lack of managerial direction and supervision which gives rise to the issues linked to what the research has found ‘busy phone lines, poor communication and the attitude of some surgery staff’. In such practices, it is not really possible for patients to seek second opinion from the senior partner(s) who remotely manage the surgery and whose availability at the surgery is not even known.
Despite the CQC guidelines, many practices in Harrow still lack public display of basic information such as the CQC inspection judgement or the improvement action plan or how to complain about the GP practice’s care and service or to gain access to other useful information and services.
Where some information is available, it is not easy for all the population groups to access it. For example, considering the patient age groups and their varied computer literacy levels, it is unlikely for many to access electronic information or write reviews on the surgery website to alert about weaknesses in running the surgeries.
It is unbelievable that when such a valuable research report was presented to the Harrow council’s Health and Social Care Scrutiny Sub-Committee on 3 July 2017, it was simplynoted’!! Would the council tell the total cost of the research?
We also note that the NHS England, Care Quality Commission and Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group are struggling to seek improvements in GP practices, especially as some in Harrow are growing into mini hospitals with active search for resources and diminishing personal touch with the patients.
We find the Harrow Healthwatch report helpful but what is more important is how the commissioning and monitoring authorities build on these pointers and rigorously monitor GP services and effectively work towards improving health care and services for Harrow residents.