The Rye Medical Centre Patients Participation Group (PPG) held its Annual General Meeting on November 22. Mrs Jacky Dudfield, the present chairwoman, opened the proceedings. Two of the committee members have resigned, one moving out of the area and the other, Mr Simon Bevan, has been on the committee for seven years. Although neither could be present, the committee thanked them for their work and will miss their interest and involvement. The Committee elected two new members, Dr Ben Chishick, retired senior partner of the practice and Ms Rosemarie Roberts. This means there are now no committee vacancies, a very satisfactory outcome.
It was disappointing that more people did not attend the meeting, but lively debates took place between those present, and another person expressed interest in joining. Mrs Dudfield will be following this up.
Mr Jeff Warley, committee member and Mrs Jacky Kempton, practice manager, started by providing information on the online patient survey. There is a high degree of satisfaction with the services provided, the main concern being the time waiting in the surgery to see the GP, to which there is no easy solution. Attendance at appointments has improved by sending a text reminder before each one, particularly if booked a long way ahead.
Mrs Nunn, Treasurer, provided a full statement of accounts. Most of the money for additional surgery items comes from the sale of books, and this continues to be the case. The PPG had also made a donation towards the purchase of a new information screen for the surgery, as the present one is worn out.
At the local level, the chairmen of Ferry Road Medical Centre and Northiam Surgery have met with Mrs Dudfield to share information. The last joint Healthy Living Event with Ferry Road medical centre, a presentation by Mrs Paula Riley, a podiatrist who lectures at Brighton University, was well attended and full of useful information. There will be two events next year, details to be advised.
The NHS is looking carefully at items that should not be prescribed in primary care, like paracetamol. The NHS England website has more information. The audience was also reminded of the importance of returning unused medication to the pharmacist, for safe disposal, and the need to monitor personal use of medication, so any unwanted or unused items can be stopped if necessary.
Dr Andrea Griffin, the Senior Partner, joined Mrs Kempton to give information about changes at the medical centre. They have not been able to recruit to the fifth GP vacancy, and on being asked her opinion on why this might be, explained that it was a national problem, referring to the situation in Hastings, where some surgeries are having to close. She said they have decided to change the skill mix in the surgery, following the very successful nurse practitioner appointment. Sadly, this person has now returned to community nursing, and is very much missed. They have therefore used the GP monies to appoint an experienced Parmedic, (a person trained to assist medical professionals and to give emergency medical treatment) who will work full time, run a regular clinic and visit people at home.
In addition, one of the practice nurses has left, and the new appointee is in the process of training to be a nurse practitioner, so that will be an additional support to the doctors and patients. It will give another practice nurse the opportunity to train similarly, both nurses therefore having an improved career pathway. Additionally, one of the receptionists is undertaking training as a phlebotomist (blood specimens).
Dr Griffin assured the meeting that all the partners supported this, as the best way forward for general practice. This was greeted with enthusiasm by the audience. New and creative ways of skill mix to continue good practice were welcomed.
Finally, the question of outpatient clinics at present using medical centre facilities was raised, and it was agreed that contact would be made to the Rye, Winchelsea and District Hospital to see what capacity might be available, as the new paramedic and other staff members would need to be housed in the surgery.
The meeting closed, to be followed by a short committee meeting to elect officers. Mrs Dudfield agreed to continue as Chairwoman, Mrs Audrey Warley will remain secretary and Mrs Nunn, Treasurer.
Photo: Rye News library