The Calverton Practice Newsletter
‘The NHS – safety net or sweet shop?’
Last month I wrote about the NHS and its recent 70th Anniversary and noted a poll which had shown that the most treasured aspect of the NHS was ‘The provision of care free and at the point of need‘. This of course raises the thorny issue of how to define ‘need’? Should ‘need’ be a safety net not yet clearly defined or should ‘need’ in fact be a ‘want’ i.e. ‘I want this because the NHS can give it to me and it is free ‘.
Of course these dilemmas are increasingly arising as a financial squeeze impacts on health care costs, steadily rising as our population ages and our health care options expand. A description I recently read said- ‘The NHS is a pie: if you ask the NHS to do more but don’t make the pie bigger then something else can’t be done’, the problem of course is that the NHS is a very big pie. What should and shouldn’t be done can depend on your perspective and it seems an area of debate our politicians are very wary of straying into.
Much of these decisions are being made at local level and can reflect often historic funding differences – we know that the East Midlands historically has been underfunded, Nottinghamshire particularly so, and at times of austerity there is even less political will to level things up. One big initiative locally is to look at medication which can now be bought directly from a pharmacy.
In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent £569 million on prescribing medication which could have been purchased directly by patients, often for self limiting or intermittent problems. Examples include pain killers (ibuprofen / paracetamol); creams and rubs; shampoos for scaly scalps; gluten free dietary products; vitamin supplements; treatments for allergy and hay fever, head lice, worms etc. Often these medicines are much cheaper bought directly rather than the cost to the NHS by prescription and increasingly we will be directing patients (even those exempt from prescription charges) to obtain such medication directly from the pharmacy. Additionally, medication being taken abroad ‘just in case’ or used to delay periods etc will be deemed non NHS and a private prescription will be offered.
As a practice we are working with our local CCG prescribing advisors and if you are contacted about this issue, please don’t take offence, we are just trying to make that rather stretched NHS pie go a little further for a little longer. Similarly, the more resourceful and self -sufficient we are, the further our NHS resources can go – remember those options of self care (NHS choices has lots of information about this); pharmacist advice first; using 111 or the Urgent Care Centre rather than the Emergency Department if you have a problem in the evening, over night or at weekends. This all saves the NHS money and ensures more is available for all the other care that still needs to be given to those in ‘need’.
Next, many of you will have noticed that we are now open from 8am each morning. At present it is only our reception desk available. Our clinics and dispensary still start at the usual time though we are now starting our extended hour’s surgeries so we will be offering some appointments in the evening and at weekends. We feel it is important to try to offer these to our patients who struggle to get to see us in the week and would ask that if you can attend during normal hours you continue to do this.
Nottingham City Transport
Our current site is now 5 years old and is showing its age, especially for those who are viewing it on a mobile device – which is now 90% of all the visitors. We’ve also seen the way people use our site change, with people more interested in live bus times, journey planning and disruptions, which will be more prominent.
Our NCTX Buses App has proven very popular since relaunching in December 2016 and we’ll be bringing across some of those features for customers to take advantage of when surfing our site.
Customers who top up their Easyrider online can continue to do so and should use the “Log In / Register” button at the top right of the page.
Unfortunately, all existing Favourites saved on accounts for use on the website will be lost and you will need to set them up again, once. The current approach to saving favourite stops has often been criticised for being too complicated and now, you’ll just need to tap the star at the top of a stop to save it. These will appear on the home page in the future.
The launch of our new website is the start of several exciting digital improvements coming in the next year, so keep an eye out for more news!