NHS managers will roll out a leaflet produced by a GP practice informing patients about alternative services available in the area having originally stopped the practice from sending it to their own patients.
NHS England’s Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly area team last week publicly rapped the Kingskerswell and Ipplepen practice for emailing patients to explain how they could access other services directly without needing a GP appointment – and ordered them to withdraw the leaflet.
But after meeting with the practice team and local CCG, area managers have conceded that they over-reacted to press reports about the initiative – and the Government is now paying for the practice to send a letter to all its patients along with a slightly revised form of the leaflet through the Prime Minister’s ‘Challenge Fund’, the £100m fund designed to increase access.
In addition, the local area team is now using the leaflet as a template for other practices in the area to distribute information about accessing other services.
Robert Hooper, practice manager at the Kingskerswell and Ipplepen health centres, told Pulse the area team had agreed to support the practice to send out the modified leaflet – which he said had barely been changed from the original one sent out by the practice – to make up for any damage to the practice’s reputation.
Mr Hooper said: ‘It is pretty much identical to our leaflet. They’re actually paying for it to go to every one of our households, with a letter to try and undo some of the damage that they – perhaps – caused.
‘So they’re endorsing it as a good idea as it were – getting the information out there to all of our patients, not just those on email. So it’s a good outcome in that way.’
He added: ‘The NHS England area team are now recognising that this is actually a very good idea and are using our leaflet as a template for use throughout Devon and Cornwall.’
A spokesperson for NHS England Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly said: ‘The leaflet was produced by the Kingskerswell and Ipplepen practice in the light of feedback from patients that they did not know what services were available locally.
‘A revised version of the leaflet, designed to ensure patients are aware of alternative NHS services offered nearby, will be used as a template for interested practices in Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.’
NHS England confirmed to Pulse that Devon, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly would meet the costs of the letter, which it said would be paid for out of the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund.
A spokesperson said: ‘This document will be funded by Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund money, not NHS England area team money.’
GP leaders have backed the Kingskerswell practice and called for a similar initiative to provide information to patients about accessing alternative services to be set up nationally.
NHS England declined to respond to Pulse’s request as to whether they would do this.