Hello again, Penny here from the Primary Care Support Team at Sackwell & Binthorpe ICS.
Gosh hasn’t it been a busy time? My team has been working flat out – often until well after 4pm, so believe me when I say we understand the pressure general practice is under.
Some of you have been asking ‘Why can’t you suspend QOF for longer?’, ‘What are you doing to protect our income?’ and ‘How are you going to stop general practice collapsing?’
Well, I’d love to say we had easy answers to these questions, but we’re all working flat out and doing our best – and complaining never helped anybody.
But never let it be said that the primary care support team didn’t proactively listen to your concerns. Our recent Stronger Together series of virtual workshops brought together our PCN Leaders Council to identify positive solutions to the problems facing us all. These ‘no holds barred’ sessions enabled a frank exchange of views during which some clinical directors admitted to being ‘really fed up’, ‘quite hacked off’ and in one case ‘nearly at the end of my tether’.
Council members agreed that while it was healthy to ‘let off steam’ clinical leaders need to identify the practical steps they can take to put all that steam to good use. As PCN Council Co-lead Sarah Bright put it so brilliantly: ‘How do we turn that frown upside down?’
After three days of collaborative discussion, the Council co-produced a six-point plan to restore morale, reinvigorate practice teams and generally shake off the blues.
- Reduce workload by ‘working smarter’. Why not undertake a review of all your processes and systems, see which ones are working well and which ones could be done better?
- Think differently. As the famous thought-leader Einstein once said: ‘Doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome could be a sign of the onset of a mental health issue’ – or words to that effect. Thinking ‘out of the box’ not only enables great ideas, it reduces the risk of suffocation and cramp.
- Involve everyone. Remember that everyone needs to be part of the team – whether they want to be or not. Make involvement part of everyone’s job.
- Show empathy. Let your colleagues know that ‘it’s okay not to be okay’, unless their behaviour poses a risk to patient safety or might result in a serious contractual breach, in which case it really isn’t okay and should be reported to me or to Liz at NHS England.
- Embrace clarity. Being clear about what you do and don’t mean can avoid the misunderstandings that lead to difficult conversations. Is clarity part of your PCN’s mission statement? Consider appointing a clarity lead.
- Remember to say ‘thank you’. We’re all so busy that it’s sometimes easy to forget the small things that mean so much to people. A ‘thank you’ costs nothing and could make all the difference to someone who’s just been asked to work another weekend to help you catch up with all the work you missed because you were at an important three-day virtual workshop.
If you found that helpful, please let us know by filling in the accompanying feedback form, which invites you to share how you’re implementing the six-point plan across your PCN. If you run out of room in the five-page ‘evidence of achievement’ section, feel free to add further pages using the template provided. We know how incredibly busy you are, but please let us have your feedback no later than 5pm on Monday.
Data collection – your questions answered
We’ve had loads of questions about the mandatory data collection – not a ‘data grab’, please – so we’ve asked our resident expert Simon Butterly from the ICS’s Information Governance and Big Pharma Business Development Unit to address some of your concerns.
Why do we need this data collection?
Analysing data held in patient records will improve research that will help us to cure all diseases and eradicate death once and for all.
How will NHS Digital ensure that individuals’ right to privacy will be protected?
NHS Digital has made very clear commitments to transparency and has made unequivocal statements to the effect that appropriate safeguards are or will very soon be in place. It also has an unrivalled record in ensuring data protection and a very clear commitment to using impressive sounding AI-based security algorithms as soon as they become available. See the Very Clear Commitments and Emerging Innovations sections of the NHS Digital website.
Are GPs right to be concerned?
No. Patient data is none of their business. They should focus on tackling the GP crisis by immediately restarting spirometry services.
If I’m still worried, can I refuse to hand over my patients’ data?
The UK has very strong data protection laws that make it illegal for GPs to withhold or object to anything without the explicit consent of the government. A 96-page consent form can be found on the NHS Digital website.
In the last newsletter we promised you a helpful explainer about the Sackwell & Binthorpe ICS. This has been delayed due to the unforeseen resignation of most of the top team including Jenny our head of comms. We’re all working incredibly hard to have it ready for the next issue.
Penny Stint is primary care enablement lead for the Primary Care Support and Strategic Integration Unit (PCSSIU) at the Sackwell & Binthorpe ICS. As told to Julian Patterson