A couple of things this week have given us great joy at GP Access, and I make no apology for talking about them because we need to turn around the prevailing wind of moans.
The first was talking to Rupert Bankart about his practice in Peterborough. For all the reasons which bedevil general practice at present (demand, recruitment, contracts etc) life has not been at all easy. But he told me how in the last month he has become so much more productive, financially better off too, as he has switched his patients to seeking help online.
I really can’t do better than invite you to listen to the interview.
The second was experiencing (remotely I’m afraid) a Somerset practice launching their GP telephone led service. No one would claim it’s all settled after one week, but it was promising to find the GPs had gone home an hour early on day one, all work done. Steve Edgar told me on Friday how much their safety and quality had improved, giving appropriate time to each patient. One had a cyst removed, the whole episode start to finish completed in 45 minutes. Of course, it costs far less like that than the palaver of arranging multiple appointments over several weeks, and the patient is delighted.
Ironic then to see the BJGP publish a rehash of the Lancet August 2014 ESTEEM data, “proving” that telephone consulting doesn’t save time. Tedious to have to go over it again: the point is that this did not test systems, but a technique in isolation. The resolve rate achieved was 25%, by GPs in 13 practices who were paid extra to do the telephone sessions.
We, along with others, and right back to the pioneers 16 years ago, have shown that 60 – 70% can be resolved remotely. One GP friend told me last week she was measuring 72% resolution now, consistently. These simple facts completely upend the findings of a four year, £2m RCT.
I’m reminded of G B Shaw’s saying, “People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.”
PS Anything I write on this, the BJGP will say I have an interest. Indeed, an interest in what works, declared with pride. But I know many of you already run super efficient GP telephone led systems and would never turn back. Could you please drop me a line and we’ll find someone to co-ordinate a response? Do hurry, they will want it for the April issue.