COLUMN: Good news for Doncaster patients as GPs are either good or outstanding

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The Government’s independent health and social care ‘watchdog’ - the Care Quality Commission (CQC) - has recently finished inspecting all 7,000 GP practices in England and I’m pleased to report that Doncaster is doing well.

We have 43 GP practices operating in the Borough, they are usually the first point of contact when any of the more than 300,000 patients registered with them have a health concern.

Some 40 of those practices have been rated ‘good’ by the health regulator and a further three were given an ‘outstanding’ rating.

So the good news for all Doncaster patients is that you now have access to a GP practice that’s either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. This is significant as, across the country as a whole, 86 per cent of practices have been rated ‘good’ and six per cent as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’.

When carrying out these Ofsted style inspections, CQC staff always looks at the quality of care provided for six groups of patients:

· older people

· those with long-term conditions

· families, children and young people

· working age people (including those recently retired and students)

· people whose circumstances may make them vulnerable

· those experiencing poor mental health (including people with dementia).

To get to the nitty-gritty of people’s experiences of care, the inspectors always ask patients these five questions when discussing services; Are they safe, effective, caring, responsive to people’s needs, and well-led?

You can read the latest inspection report of your GP practice by visiting www.cqc.org.uk and typing in their name in the search panel.

GP practices are at the heart of, and play a big part in, the life of local communities and the relationship between a practice and its patients is very important. Which is why I was delighted to see that Armthorpe’s The Village Practice, which has 5,700 patients and has just been awarded a five star Certificate of Excellence from the iWantGreatCare website.

After visiting the practice, patients are encouraged to complete a leaflet titled ‘Did you get great care today?’. It asks nine questions including ‘were you involved in decisions made about your care and treatment?’ and ‘how likely are you to recommend this GP practice to friends and family if they needed similar care or treatment?’.

The completed forms are sent to iWantGreatCare, which gathers the data and publishes on its website. So to be awarded this certificate is a powerful ‘thumbs-up’ from the practice’s patients themselves and a great endorsement about the care they receive.

Staff are pictured here quite rightly celebrating their success.

It’s estimated that 90 per cent of all patient contacts with the NHS take place in primary care, at GP practices. Practice staff play a key role in stabilising the country’s health system by keeping people well, helping prevent illness, managing long-term conditions and making sure only those who need more specialist care are referred on to hospital consultants.