It is about 5 years since Scrutiny has looked at GP services in Brent and there have been many changes since then as well as current issues around accessibility during the Covid pandemic. A quick glance at locally based Facebook sites will demonstrate there are issues around accessiblity to face to face appointments, difficulties in making contact via the telephone and differences between surgeries regarding email contact and on-line consultations.
It is welcome then that a strong General Practioner and Primary Care Accessibility Group has been formed consisiting of Cllr Mary Daly as Chair plus Cllr Abdi Aden, Cllr Tony Ethapemi, Cllr Claudia Hector, Cllr Gaynor Lloyd and Cllr Ahmad Shahzad.
The scope of the Task Force will be discussed at 5pm on Monday at a meeting that is available to watch on Zoom.
i) To gather findings based on quantitative data and information about GP accessibility based on face-to-face appointments, physical and digital access, and qualitative information from patients’ experiences with particular reference to those who are older, have mental health needs or a disability, and who have long-term health conditions.
ii) To review the overall local offer of GP services, including the extended GP access hub service, and evaluate any variation in accessibility by practice and the underlying reasons for any variation with particular reference to clinical capacity and nursing.
iii) To evaluate the local demand to access primary care, changes in demand during the Covid 19 pandemic and changes in access to GP services during the pandemic with particular reference to digital accessibility and face-to-face appointments.
iv) To understand the role of primary care in addressing health inequalities by gathering findings on population health, deprivation and demographic trends in the borough with particular reference to Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) patients.
v) To develop a report and recommendations for local NHS organisations and the local authority’s Cabinet based on the findings and evidence gathered during the review.
It is suggested that there are five evidence sessions for this task group. The proposed structure for the meetings will be meetings with representatives from NHS organisations and GPs for evidence session 1 and evidence session 2, meetings with Healthwatch Brent and patient advocacy groups for evidence session 3, and a meeting with the voluntary sector and other relevant community organisations for evidence session 4. There will be a meeting with community organisations for evidence session 5.
Key Lines of Enquiry
To structure the evidence sessions, the scrutiny task group will focus on particular key lines of enquiry to ensure there is accountability about local primary care services.
These will include, but not be limited to, the following suggested key lines of enquiry.
1. What is the local demand for GP services and what are the particular needs of Brent residents, including vulnerable patient groups, in relation to accessing GP care?
2. Is there sufficient provision of GP services in the London Borough of Brent based on local population health needs and the growing population in the borough and is there a difference in provision or accessibility between the north and south of Brent?
3. What has been the long-term trend in how GP services are accessed and what has been happening during the Covid 19 pandemic in terms of the balance between remote appointments using digital technology and face-to-face appointments?
4. Is there a danger of exclusion from primary care services for those patients who are not able to use the digital or online options and rely on face-to-face appointments?
5. What strategy is needed to address variation and ensure that there is fair and equitable access to GP services available to Brent residents across the borough?
6. What does benchmarking data show about primary care and GP performance in Brent compared with the other clinical commissioning groups in North West London?
7. What is the role of Patient Participation Groups in addressing accessibility issues?