What matters most to people when getting support from their GP.
Healthwatch Birmingham highlights that improvements to whole-person centred approach is key to providing care for people living with a range of conditions.
People living with a brain injury, a mental health issue, autism or dementia have highlighted the importance of high quality whole-person care when visiting their general practice. In Healthwatch Birmingham's latest investigation, people's views indicate a variation in the quality of GPs, which can impact patients accessing services and getting support to manage their condition.
Read the full report here.
Independent champion Healthwatch Birmingham heard from patients, and their carers, from across the city about what it is like to get support from their GP. Many shared that they would like to see consistent and effective joined up care, with improvements needed to treat mental health equally with physical health.
What do patients value?
The report provides insight into the experiences of local patients who highlighted the importance of:
- Being able to make appointments quickly and easily, particularly when in crisis. Patients shared that they would benefit from more modern, accessible booking systems, whilst people also fed back about 10 minute consultation period, which they say presents obstacles to getting adequate support from their GP.
- Having stability of services and continuity of care. People with complex needs shared the challenges they face speaking about their issues, particularly those with mental health needs. People value effective continuity of care, where they can see the same GP, build trust and speak confidently about their health.
- Receiving swift referrals to specialist and community services. Some patients shared positive experiences of getting referred to the right services, however patients with autism reported difficulties in diagnosis, assessment and specialist support. People living with a mental health issue value knowledgeable GPs who can signpost to a range of support services that can help.
- Being seen by a GP who has knowledge and training of their condition. Feedback from patients highlight how important it is that GPs have the skills and training about conditions such as autism, dementia, mental health or brain injury. People with autism in particular stressed the importance of GPs being knowledgeable and able to effectively support in diagnosis, medication and care, which needs to be of consistent high quality.
The Departments of Health and Social Care recently announced new measure to improve care for people with autism and learning disabilities. This follows on from proposals announced earlier this year, which will see all health and care staff undertake mandatory training.
Improving peoples experiences of general practice
Following their investigation, Healthwatch Birmingham has recommended that Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) produce high quality patient information cards or leaflets to help patients, and their carers, overcome some of the issues they face when getting support from their GP. Similar cards are already in use - Northumberland has introduced their Dementia cards and Health London Partnership has developed the 'My Right to Access Healthcare' cards.
Karen Heliwell, Director of Integration at NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group said: "We would like to thank Healthwatch Birmingham for this very insightful piece of research, with particularly vulnerable groups of people.
"Local people are at the heart of everything we do. The CCG's aim to improve the health and wellbeing of local people requires us to understand, and act on, what really matters to them; this report will really help us to work with our GP practices and further improve services to patients.
"We look forward to working with Healthwatch Birmingham, patients and other local organisations on delivering the practical and helpful recommendations highlighted in the report."