These meetings are held in public, but are not public meetings as such. However in comparison to the Hull CCG, members seemed happy to see the public there, and actively encouraged comments from the Gallery.
Firstly it was interesting to note that one member had to declare an interest in a company pitching to GP’s surgeries regarding building work.
We were rather taken aback that, on researching the “Patient Experience” member, who is meant to speak for ordinary members of the public, we found that this person had a CV as long as your arm as an “Healthcare Management Consultant”. We aren’t going to name the person here, but to us this seems like a blatant attempt to rig the position for someone “on the inside”, or as attempt for a consultant to garner work and contracts for themselves. How, and who elected them? We must find out. It looks dodgy.
It came to light that Patient Participation Groups, much trumpeted by Lansley as involving patients in how their GP’s offered services, are NOT mandatory. Indeed less than 60% of surgeries have one. In the case of Willerby I signed up in June, got an email acknowledgement, which was re send when I enquired when the next meeting was in September. As of today (six months on) there has been no meeting. Have just emailed and received the same automated reply. So much for Patient Participation!
The meeting then went through some surveys regarding patient priorities. Who did they ask, what was the size of the sample, was it checked for statistical robustness? None of these questions could be answered by reading the document.
It was revealed that the Individual Funding Panel (they deal with exceptionally expensive requiring ongoing funding) was being “streamlined”, which is public sector speak for “cut”, to just three members and a secretary. They are going to review all cases and the requirement will be “True Need”. A distinctly worrying phrase and open to all sorts of interpretation. This smacks of the current Tory divide and rule policies where we have the “truly deserving” welfare recipients and the rest are scroungers.
Commissioning Support Units were discussed. One GP confessed that he had little to no understanding of what CSU’s are. From what we can gather on google, they advise CCG’s on how to spend their money. A bit like…the PCT Managers! The contract for this CCG is £3 million and runs until 2015 when you guessed it PRIVATE CONTRACTORS CAN BID!
Next came NHS 111, which is to replace NHS Direct in March. It is being piloted for TWO WEEKS ONLY before going live on 19th March. One GP said; “There will be a lot of risk to the public due to the tight schedule and lack of information”.
The idea is that the call centre emails out of hours GP service with the information about the caller. There is no compulsion on them to call back. In addition it was asked how many out of hours centres had “live” email updates. Then there is the problem that different surgeries and centres are on different IT packages.
The next GP speaker talked of, “chaos in the system”. The lead person said that the workforce was ½ what NHS Direct employs. Call centre operatives, and not clinicians will decide priorities. Will they know what questions to ask eg regarding chest pain, strokes or childhood meningitis? Will risk averseness take over meaning more, not less ambulances are dispatched?
A GP then stated, “Some GP’s just won’t engage because it’s been forced on us”.
The final GP speaker said, “There is a whole heap of risk with this 111 system. It’s scary and a recipe for disaster”
More to come…