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Secret Diary of a PM: November in Review

I am writing this at the end of November- Covid is once again the main issue, absences are impacting us and we have seen no let-up in the pressures on the NHS - and winter hasn’t even officially started!

We are all learning to live – and work – with Covid as it is going to be here for some time. Our flu clinics this year were initially very well attended, with high uptake, but with the rationing of supplies, it meant deliveries stretched into the middle of November, so this has seen the latter clinics recording a lower uptake.

Of course, I do not blame patients looking to pharmacists to get the vaccination, but this will leave many surgeries with unused stock. To think we will still be trying to vaccinate early December in normal times shows the extent of the problem.

As I write this, a new strain of Covid has appeared in the UK - there is speculation by some that it will be worse, by others that it will not.  As with everything surrounding Covid, no one really knows for sure at this early stage, and we will have to react as and when we know more.

It is disappointing that the Covid Booster programme has not had a higher uptake, and in my view, it is possibly because GP surgeries were not offering it.  In our case, our PCN were in mixed views, but the underlying view that we would just not have been able to cope with the reinstatement of all our normal work and targets has been borne out.

I am certain our surgery is not the only one to have had a lot of absences with staff being unwell, having to get a PCR test, or having been pinged, or going down with similar symptoms to Covid of sore throats, stomach upsets and so on. So, the pressures on running the surgery have increased but fortunately we do have loyal staff that help out as and where needed, and so with these kinds of pressures, there was no way could we have signed up to the Booster programme.

I appreciate the reasoning behind wanting to restore normal working but in my view, I wonder if the uptake of the Covid Booster would have been higher if GP surgeries had taken part and the NHS position may be seen to have been incorrect?

Restoring all patient work is still not really happening as despite the media interference some patients are still not comfortable in coming into the surgery, and some insisting on being seen remotely or waiting for the yearly review.

In my own case, I was due a health review in September, but have not been recalled yet. However, I was doing an e-consult earlier in the month and I was seen the next day face to face, referred on a two-week wait and seen 5 days later for hospital tests.

That was fantastic and possibly better than normal times. When I was at the hospital, they said so many people were scared of coming in for tests, that they declined the appointment, or just did not show up.  So, there is always more sides to every story.

The appointment of Jeremy Hunt to chair an enquiry into the NHS and GP practices over the next five years is a good one. In my view he was one of the better Health Secretaries and does have a grasp of the issues the NHS is facing.

Getting evidence to him by 14th December does show the level of concern felt by the government but I think we can all guess where this is going.  The findings will not be a revelation and the cure we all know is so complex and without the will of governments and the people we will continue as we are.

 

We are all encouraged to send in our opinions, and I do hope many of us will.

 

 

 

 

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