ISSUE NO. 57 WINTER 2012/13
PATIENT GROUP CELEBRATES ITS 20TH ANNIVERSARY By Roger Gedye This winter edition of the Newsletter celebrates the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Patient Group in 1993. We shall be marking the event at the AGM on Monday 4 March 2013, where our guest speakers will include Dr Derek Bird and Mr Geoff Mainwaring whose inspiration it was to establish the PPG. They provide some brief recollections on pages 3 and 4 of this Newsletter. Later in the year a special Birthday Health Fair will be held at the Harpenden Public Hall on Saturday 28 September 2013.
The year 2012 has been memorable for Davenport House. The completion of the building works has improved the working conditions for our doctors, nurses and office staff and provided a smart and welcoming environment for patients.
There has been a change in senior management with the retirement of Dr Alan Stranders and the succession of Dr Charli Barber-Lomax as Senior Partner. The Patient Group is fortunate to have two such staunch supporters and we John Harris has taken on the wish them both well in their new Treasurer’s role and we have situations. welcomed Gillian Thornton and Bob Fletcher to the committee. Ian Drew has stepped down
CONGRATULATIONS FROM THE CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR PATIENT PARTICIPATION (N.A.P.P) Dr Patricia Wilkie, PhD, FRCR (Hon), FRCGP (Hon) It is a great pleasure to send, in my capacity as President and Chair of N.A.P.P., many congratulations to Davenport House Patient Group on reaching their 20th Anniversary. This is a credit to the vision and enthusiasm of the founder members as well as to all those who have continued with the good work. I was impressed by the six aims of the Partners in establishing the PPG. The principles underlying these aims are even more relevant today with the emphasis on public and patient involvement in all aspects of health and the importance of identifying and helping groups of patients who are often less well served by health services.
from the Patient Group committee after six highly productive years as our Treasurer. Not only has he placed our finances on a sound footing, he has been responsible for the introduction of our first website, and with his wife Gill masterminded our excellent Health Fair in 2010.
frustration for patients trying to make an appointment as well as for staff who deal with appointments. It is pleasing to learn that the PPG has been involved in the development and running of patient surveys which are an essential component of the GMC revalidation of doctors starting in December 2012. This can only be of great help to the doctors in the Practice.
The future is challenging for general practice with changes in the organisation of the NHS, commissioning, the involvement of Care Quality Commission in general practice and the revalidation of doctors. Davenport House PPG is vibrant, strong and dedicated The work that the PPG has done and can only be of help to both is not only interesting but also patients and staff in facing important for patients and for these challenges. staff. The introduction of changes to the appointment I congratulate you all on and the telephone systems your 20 year anniversary. should have resulted in less Carry on the good work!
PPG REVIEW—Part 1 2012 has also been an opportunity to reflect on the work of the Patient Group.
Has it lived up to the expectations of its founders who share their recollections on the next two pages?
Is it providing value for money for its members?
Is it fulfilling its role as a channel of communication between Surgery and patients?
Is it valued by doctors and by patients?
How should it respond to the political changes that are affecting health care at the current time?
How should it identify and respond to the needs of patients in the 21st century?
Many of you responded to the Patient Group Questionnaire in the last edition of the Newsletter. The results of our deliberations are summarised in subsequent pages.
RECOLLECTIONS FROM THE FOUNDERS OF THE PATIENT GROUP Dr Derek Bird, Senior Partner at the time During the late 1980s Patient Participation Groups had begun to appear in General Practices throughout the UK. The slowness of uptake wasn’t helped by the experiences of some hospitals and General Practices due to the Patients’ Association that was set up to help patients who had complaints about their treatment and which had been highly critical of doctors and sometimes aggressively so. Inevitably there were situations that were confrontational and unpleasant and led to disciplinary measures against the doctors albeit in some cases justly.
I was delighted when he agreed and he led the group through the early stages and beyond. It is largely due to him that the PPG has been so successful and doctors and patients owe him an immense debt of gratitude. The aims of the partners in setting up the PPG were to:
In the early 1990s businesses were spending a good deal of time preparing business plans to improve efficiency. Fund holding was introduced by the Government to try to make healthcare more economical. So the partners at Davenport House also decided to have a mission statement and business plan of their own. Our main objective was to look at the Practice and ensure the care of our patients was central. Of course this had always been so but to write our aims down drew our attention to improving the care we offered in many ways.
create a better liaison between patients and doctors;
involve patients in planning and evaluating Practice developments;
identify patient groups which were poorly served;
promote happy relationships between doctors and patients;
promote better health and consider the white paper Health of the Nation;
give the Practice a more powerful voice and thus a greater influence.
Patients were invited to join the PPG and I well remember Mrs Pam Morris sitting in the waiting area for hours cajoling patients to sign up! On one occasion the partners even agreed to allow a questionnaire assessing the doctors to be completed by the patients after their consultations. We were all on our best behavior that week!
For a few years prior to 1993 I had had the idea that we might start a Patient Participation Group. The concept was not supported by my partners and it was put on the back burner. However the new business plan had awakened more interest and agreement was eventually reached.
One of the many successes of the PPG was persuading the Town Council to construct a waiting bay outside the entrance for disabled patients to park. This was largely due to the efforts of John Bennett.
Clearly this needed the support of the patients so we began to search for people to form a steering I am delighted that the PPG has gone from committee. I knew Geoffrey Mainwaring well and strength to strength and today is the envy of since he had recently retired thought that he many patients from other Practices. might enjoy the challenge of acting as Chairman.
EXTRACT FROM A PATIENT LETTER DATED 9 OCTOBER 2012 Dear Membership Secretary This is to advise you that I have moved away from the Harpenden area to Torquay and will no longer be a member of the Davenport House PPG. I have been a member of since the foundation of the Group and have been most impressed by its progress over the years – quite unique in Harpenden. We have always been kept well informed about all local health issues, and friends in other Practices do not seem to be aware of many of these matters
RECOLLECTIONS FROM THE FOUNDERS OF THE PATIENT GROUP Geoff Mainwaring—First Chairman Not long after I retired in July 1992, Dr Derek Bird, then Senior Partner, asked me to investigate what might be involved in setting up a Patient Participation Group. He gave me a booklet published by the Royal College of General Practitioners and a copy of an article from the British Medical Journal. Based on these, I made a presentation to a Practice meeting which decided that we should go ahead.
Encouraged by this response and with an interestfree loan of £2000 from the Practice, there was an 'all-patient' mailing in March 1994. We had decided to ask members to pay an annual membership fee of £5 per household. The response was overwhelming. The loan was repaid, computer databases were set up, a constitution was adopted, volunteers delivered the first issue of the PPG Newsletter. By October 1994, a meeting of members had decided the PPG's future direction. Did the Steering Committee demonstrate patient support or not? By December 1994, there were 760 members, the PPG was financially independent, four issues of the Newsletter had been delivered, seven 'events' had taken place (average attendance 125; 280 members had attended one of them!), the shape and function of the new Management Committee had been agreed, 16 members had offered themselves for election and future activities had been ranked in order of importance.
The Practice provided £500 of initial funding. I chaired a Steering Committee whose task was to show within two years whether patients would support a PPG. I had no idea how much work would be involved. In hindsight, perhaps that was a good thing! Many stories could be told about those early years but behind all that happened were people The Steering Group first met in January 1993. It patients, doctors and Practice staff - who worked agreed always to work harmoniously and hard to lay the foundation of the PPG. cooperatively with the doctors and never be confrontational. Objectives were agreed and I The future is now in the hands of others. They believe these remain largely unchanged. have ensured that 20 years later the PPG is still active and well supported. How fortunate we are A highlight from the first two years was the first to have active, hard working people serving on 'event' held in May 1993 at the Surgery. The topic the current Management Team. was Fundholding and Charli Barber-Lomax was the speaker. We had to turn people away. So three cheers for the Practice that kicked it all off and for all who have contributed so much over 20 years.
SURGERY SNIPPET—NEW DOCTOR Anthea Doran, Practice Manager Following Dr Stranders’ retirement at the beginning of October, the Practice appointed Dr Anna Benson as a salaried GP for one year. An ex-Roundwood Park pupil, Dr Benson qualified from Nottingham in 2000 before taking up a salaried GP post in South London where she has worked for the last 8 years. Her qualifications include BM, BS, DFFP, MRCGP. Dr Benson is family planning trained and provides both counselling and fitting appointments for a variety of contraceptive methods including coil and Nexplanon. Dr Benson has taken full accountability for patients on Dr Stranders’ list and we are confident that his patients will be delighted with their new doctor. For those patients who had asked to move to the list of another partner, records have been updated to facilitate all requests.
PATIENT GROUP REVIEW—PART 2 By Roger Gedye The Davenport House Patient Group has about 850 families registered as members to whom it delivers four high quality Newsletters each year, offers a regular programme of open lectures, and on behalf of whom it maintains a constructive relationship with our doctors and Practice managers. This is the balance in credit, of which I think we can be reasonably proud. Set against this, there are about 3000 families who choose not to register as members and may not know of our existence! Understandably, the young and the healthy are less likely to take a lively interest in matters of health than the more mature members of our community who make up the majority of our Patient Group membership. Our doctors would certainly encourage us to reach out to a wider spread of patients, which should include younger families and disadvantaged groups who tend to be under represented.
Group. Sam Mills, herself the young mother of a young family, represents our younger patients. She ensures a balance of articles in the Newsletter and promotes the health education of younger patients through our programme of talks. Sam has teamed up with our paediatric specialist, Dr Kirsten Lamb, to address young mothers in the community and promotes the Surgery at the annual Teddy Bears Picnic. Viviane Vayssieres, who is our marketing guru, is directing the Birthday Health Fair towards the health and well-being of the younger family, and takes every opportunity to reach out to younger patients. Viviane’s influence can be easily recognised by the bright and attractive light-box in the entrance lobby at Davenport House, which welcomes every patient and promotes the activities of the patient group. It is worth reminding patients that the work of all the committee members is undertaken entirely voluntarily. In addition, there is a large team of newsletter deliverers who deliver your quarterly edition voluntarily, saving the Patient Group a considerable amount of money in postage.
One positive suggestion is to appoint suitably qualified patients who would be prepared to act as champions for disadvantaged groups of patients such as the disabled. It would be very interesting to hear from any patients who think they might be able to respond to this suggestion. Younger patients are valued by the Patient
SURGERY SNIPPETS—ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTION SERVICE By Anthea Doran, Practice Manager I am implementing an electronic prescription service at the Surgery. This is a national system which is slowly being rolled out to Surgeries and is aimed at reducing the paper generated by the current prescription system as well as improving security. The key points for patients include: collected from a pharmacy near to where you live, work or shop.
If you collect repeat prescriptions you will not have to visit your GP Practice just to pick up your paper prescription. Instead, your GP will send the prescription electronically to the place you choose, saving you time.
If the prescription needs to be cancelled the GP can electronically cancel and issue a new prescription without you having to return to the Practice – saving you extra trips.
The prescription is an electronic message so there is no paper prescription to lose.
You may not have to wait as long at the pharmacy as your repeat prescriptions can be made ready before you arrive.
You will have more choice about where to get your medicines from because they can be
We are hoping that the system will be live as of the 7 December 2012 and we will keep patients up to date with our progress via the website. (www.davenportsurgery.co.uk) 5
CELEBRATING OUR 20th ANNIVERSARY YEAR 2013 By Viviane Vayssieres, Responsible for Patient Group Marketing We are one of the longest established Patient Participation Groups in England of which we can be justifiably very proud. We have worked closely with the Practice to support improvements to the fabric and equipment for the Surgery which has directly improved the quality of services for patients. Recent examples are: PPG Funding towards Equipment Medical Cauterising equipment Hydraulic Couch for treatment room Patient Touch Screen Check In Finger Pulse Oximeter 6-panel display in reception area New Spirometry System Lobby Area Light Box Portable 12 litre Vaccine Fridge Total (2005—2012)
Monday 13 May Mr David Hackett, a leading consultant cardiologist from West Hertfordshire, will talk about “Current Trends in Cardiac Care”. This will be of interest to all our members. Monday 8 July A consultant dermatologist will speak about “Treating Skin Problems”. Saturday 17 August We are delighted to be again supporting The Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Lydekker Park including the Teddy Bears’ Health Check. This is a really fun event for children, parents and grandparents at which our doctors will be represented.
878 758 750 237 278 1,200 216 384 4,701
As part of celebrating our achievements we have arranged some great events/talks during 2013 and will be purchasing further equipment for the Surgery.
Saturday 28 September—The Big Event
EVENTS DURING 2013 FOR YOUR DIARY Monday 4 March We start with the “Then & Now of General Practice” presentation at the AGM on Monday 4 March at Fowden Hall, Rothamsted. This will feature our founders, Geoff Mainwaring and Dr Derek Bird, together with our Senior Partner Dr Charli Barber-Lomax. (See back page)
Our big event during 2013 is The Essential guide to the Health Galaxy “You, your children & their health” at the Harpenden Public Hall. This will be a fun, informative and interactive Health Fair focused on young children (aged 0-11), their parents and grandparents. Events Supported by
I wish you all a Healthy New Year 2013.
SURGERY SNIPPET—FLU VACCINATIONS By Anthea Doran, Practice Manager We continue to offer flu vaccinations to anyone who is or will be over the age of 65 years on 31 March 2013 or has a chronic health condition which makes them vulnerable if flu is contracted.
In addition we are inviting all pregnant ladies in their 28th week or later to attend for a pertussis vaccine. This will protect their unborn child from whooping cough which has become more prevalent in the last year. More information on both vaccines can be found at NHS Choices. (www.nhs.uk – enter either flu vaccination or whooping cough vaccination in the search box)
Please contact the Surgery to book a 5 minute appointment.
WHEN WAS THE BOILER LAST CHECKED? By Dr Charli Barber-Lomax We all do it and I know doctors do it just as much as anyone else. We take the car for an MOT and “whilst you have it there can you please check…..” or you have a builder in to put in the new fireplace and “whilst you’re here can you just ….”
if your hypertension remains well controlled? Or diabetes, or emphysema? How would you know if treatments have changed or developments mean that regimes should be modified, or even the DVLA rules have changed? So a regular review is surely sensible. But it’s not just a matter of re-authorising the repeat prescription service so that you can get more pills. It does require an overview – and that probably takes about ten minutes. ‘But whilst I’m here doc … ‘
And we’re all busy, so it may say on the repeat prescription ticket that accompanies the prescription ‘You MUST see the doctor for your next prescription’ but life is too short and you only saw him a month ago about something else, and doesn’t that count?
And the not-so-lucky patients are perhaps the least well served. Those with memory loss or learning difficulties or psychological problems or On the other hand having a regular annual review …. Well, we do have call systems for them, and of a condition allows you and your GP the hopefully we are getting better at asking their opportunity to check that those drugs are still carers as to what the impact caring is having on necessary, that they aren’t causing more trouble the carers’ lives too. The message, I suppose, is than they were designed to suppress, and that that if you do have a chronic medical condition, the medical condition is well controlled. surely it’s good sense to have a review every year – at least once a year. And if you do, just for this The conditions that, if they deteriorate, may once, can you leave the list at home, so we can cause discomfort or pain - well you’d be the first give the review our complete undivided attention to return….. “Ever since it got cold, my angina’s for those ten minutes? You know what they say – worse Dr” – but unless you’re checking your own a stitch in time doesn’t gather any moss – or blood pressure (a very good idea and one I would something. applaud if done the right way) how do you know
PATIENT GROUP REVIEW/SURVEY RESULTS—PART 3 By Roger Gedye There were almost 100 responses to the patient questionnaire from the autumn Newsletter.
typical audience of about 50 in the hall. Sheila Uppington works very hard to generate a programme that will educate and inform, and almost always entertain, the audience.
Subscription Almost 100% of those returning the questionnaire felt that the annual subscription charged to members represented good value for money. A great relief to those of us who had agonised over the rise in the annual subscription to members in 2009. Members were asked whether single members should be charged the same subscription as a family. The response was evenly divided, and this suggestion will be considered carefully by the committee.
These talks are delivered by leading medical experts, without charge, generally at the suggestion and invitation of our doctors. We would love to see more members benefitting from these excellent speakers. One comment from a questionnaire was to the effect:
“Talks are of interest, but we are fortunate to be in very good health and have not felt compelled to attend. We may in future as old age is creeping up fast!“
There was an overwhelming response from members, and from our doctors, in praise of the content and presentation of the Newsletter. Very few would opt to receive the Newsletter as an email document.
To which I would reply: “No compulsion, but you may be pleasantly surprised to hear experts in their field describing how modern medicine is able to treat, control and generally stave off the physical onset of old age. No need to wait until it has actually arrived!”
Educational Talks—Rothamsted The programme of talks at Rothamsted received a more mixed reception. There is a loyal band of members who regularly support the talks with a 7
HOW THE PATIENT GROUP/PRACTICE PARTNERSHIP WORKS By Anthe Doran, Practice Manager I started at the Practice in May 1994 and Dr Derek Bird soon introduced me to Geoff Mainwaring, the first Chairman and one of the main drivers behind the recently formed Patient Group.
understanding of the political direction whilst also allowing us to influence local policy.
Our doctors also attend several of the Patient Group working committees. Dr Sneha Wadhwani is on the Newsletter Editorial Group, Dr Alka Cashyap is on the Educational Meeting Planning Committee, Drs Kirsten Lamb and Sneha Having previously worked for Wadhwani are currently on the Anniversary Marks and Spencer, I was very Health Fair Working Group. Others doctors assist aware of the importance of customer service and on one-off projects. was delighted that the partners were embracing a patient-centred approach by involving patients in Over the last 20 years both the Practice and PPG their decision making where appropriate. have developed their relationship to one of mutual trust and respect. In this environment we In my first few months when I was a little unsure are able to progress agendas that impact on of my role, I was helped by Geoff and his patient care and make decisions based on the committee as they questioned why we worked in views of the users and not just the owners of the certain ways and challenged processes which systems. acted as barriers to patient care. Successive Chairs and committee members have maintained The challenge for the next 20 years is to grow the this questioning approach which is invaluable in membership to include our younger patients so ensuring that the Practice does not lose sight of we can be confident that we are providing an one of its main goals: providing an excellent and excellent and accessible service to our patients accessible service to our patients. across all age groups and medical and social needs. Since its inception, all Chairmen have received edited (to preserve patient confidentiality) The partnership approach has meant that the minutes of our partner meetings. The Chair and PPG has been influential in a number of diverse the Newsletter Editor is also invited to the projects: Practice meeting once a quarter and one partner and I attend all PPG committee meetings. This Changes to the appointment system to allow regular face to face contact and sharing of on the day booking as per Government information allows us to maintain a good directive. relationship with the committee as a whole. This Changes to the telephone system that encourages the exchange of ideas as well as culminated in the purchase of the providing an opportunity to explain new automated booking system. initiatives and changes to systems. Development and running of patient surveys Inclusion on the interview panel for new Communication is not limited to the Practice team. The PPG have been involved in a number partners. of the political changes that have impacted health Involvement in Practice away days where over the last 20 years. Indeed, some of you will strategies for the future were discussed and recall that during the late 1990s, one of our exagreed. Chairmen, John Bennett, became the Chair of the Ideas and help in setting up the Patient newly formed St Albans and Harpenden Primary Focus Group. Care Trust. Committee members have also sat Taking on the editing and production of the on the panels of a number of local committees: quarterly patient Newsletter. Acting as a consultative board on the design Locality planning looking at provision for of our new website. elderly care and mental health provision LINKS, a statutory body considering the new Involvement in the design of the new commissioning arrangements. Surgery including championing the need for Elected Governors of the L&D. automatic front doors for ease of access. Member of the Ambulance Trust Joint all patient mailings. Development of a programme of small All these appointments benefit both the Surgery group talks led by partners and nurses. and our patients as they provide an
CAN WE SAVE THE RED HOUSE? By John Harris, member of the Harpenden Society Working Group It is estimated that £250,000 will need to be spent on the Harpenden Memorial Hospital to maintain the fabric of the building, after which it would still not be “fit for purpose”. So redevelopment of the site with new facilities is the most likely solution which presents huge challenges for the Harpenden community with no guarantee of success given the failure of previous initiatives. However, the latest opportunity arises from the ownership transfer of the hospital from the PCT to the Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) on 1 April 2013. In addition, the Harpenden Society has produced a paper on reviving the hospital, following which meetings have been convened
with key local interest groups together with the Chief Executive of HCT, David Law. He has encouraged the Harpenden community to make a case for retaining the hospital based on identifiable local needs. The first step, which was led by Councillor Teresa Heritage, was to undertake a survey which was completed recently and produced the following conclusions. Survey Results The value of local services came across strongly from the survey. Generally these were not hightech services but ones which were focused on maintaining health and well-being. Understandably, there was a strong focus on services for older people and a sense that these services need to be re-invigorated locally. The responses indicated three main areas of service provision as shown in the diagram below. If there was to be a redevelopment of the Harpenden site it should focus on these areas.
Services for older people
Health and Well-being
Post-acute care; day care; Rehabilitation, respite, End of life care
Foot, eye, dental, hearing Clinics, physiotherapy, Talking therapies; minor injuries and diagnostics; phlebotomy; local outpatients; children’s services
Fitness, health advice, weight management emotional and psychological support, mutual support
The main area of difference from what has historically been provided at the Red House was the health and well-being element.
3. Support from the new Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group which will be responsible for buying NHS services from 1 April 2013
The Next Steps 4. Strong local commitment and support for the proposals, including voluntary involvement in the new facility.
The Harpenden Society has drafted a business case for re-developing the site and David Law is undertaking an outline financial appraisal for consideration by the widely represented Working Group which is to meet in December with Peter Lilley MP.
What you can do?
As mentioned in the last Newsletter you can become a member of HCT at no cost to There are several key factors which would need to demonstrate your support for the efforts being be overcome if these proposals have any chance made by its Chief Executive and the Harpenden of progressing: Working Group for the continued provision of services from the Red House. The HCT web site is 1. Approval from the Secretary of State for any funds generated from a part sale of the site to www.hertschs.nhs.uk be used for redevelopment Anyone with expertise in the redevelopment of an 2. Potential partners being identified to assist existing NHS site and/or generating local with funding and servicing of a new facility in community pressure to volunteer to assist the due course. Harpenden Society Working Group.
PATIENT GROUP REVIEW/SURVEY RESULTS—PART 4 By Roger Gedye Small Group Discussions
suggest whether this could be worthwhile and how it might be done. Patient Group/Practice Relationship
Support for the small group discussions at the Surgery, which are generally directed towards patients with a particular interest in a medical The relationship between the Patient Group and condition, has declined of late and Sheila will not our doctors remains strongly constructive. be offering a programme in 2013. Doctors and patients work together in planning our activities and our doctors write a majority of Several suitable topics were suggested by the articles in the Newsletter. respondents to the questionnaire and these will be considered for a future programme. If you The medical profession is facing a challenging are disappointed by the temporary withdrawal of period of change and Davenport House will these small group discussions, do write and tell benefit by keeping patients fully informed of us as this will be much the best way to have these changes. In this way the doctors will them reinstated! receive the sympathetic support of patients if the going gets particularly tough. Educational Talks Disadvantaged Patients A number of members would prefer meetings in the afternoon, or on a different evening so we During the course of the ‘conversation’ we have will see if this is a possibility. However, it may been made aware of the particular needs of be very difficult to find speakers, who are disadvantaged patients, especially the problems usually working professionals, available to take of access to routine medical care experienced by time off before the evening, and Monday is the housebound and elderly patients. only evening ‘slot’ at Rothamsted. The letter, musing on access to health care in The Future one’s 90s and published in the autumn edition, is an excellent example. Could the Patient And so, to the future. How should the Patient Group set up its own agency to offer assistance? Group respond to changing times? We must Our doctors, on balance, have advised against address the problem of communication. How to this and recommended that we build a strong connect with the 80% of patients who are not affiliation with the existing agencies and members? voluntary organisations that already exist in the Harpenden area. This is a real challenge for the Patient Group Web Site future, and one that we must accept. Bob Fletcher has joined the committee, and brings with him a wealth of experience in website design. He has already updated the existing website, which can be viewed at www.patientgroup.org.uk . It looks fresh and new and is very fast and easy to use. Try ‘googling’ Davenport House Patient Group, or clicking the link from the Surgery website. Bob will be keeping the material on the website up to date and will keep a back catalogue of Newsletters available for access by members and non-members alike. There will also be a digest of significant information about Surgery matters distilled from the current Newsletters. We hope that this may help bridge the communication gap between members and non-members in the future.
Conclusions In this article I have addressed some fundamental questions. Twenty years on the Patient Group continues to deliver a portfolio of activities that reflects the intentions of its founders. It has maintained its membership at a steady level, but must continue to attract new members from across the age spectrum and to offer more to disadvantaged patients. Its lines of communication are strong but can be improved by taking advantage of modern technologies. It is good to report that from the feedback we have received we can say with some confidence that the Davenport House Patient Group continues to be valued by doctors and patients alike.
The Patient Group has yet to take advantage of social networking to promote its activities; perhaps an enlightened reader would like to 10
MEETING REPORT AN EVENING OF SCREENINGâ€”By Sheila Uppington Introduction
individual and feeling changes including dimpling.
The old adage 'Prevention is better than Cure' was the theme of our panel who all encouraged regular attendance for screening invitations. Good screening tests need to be user friendly so people do attend, give accurate and reliable results, be cost effective, be low risk, have an effective recall process, and reduce illness and death. They address common diseases although unfortunately not all of these have as yet a developed screening test. Chlamydia Screening Jo Wilson outlined the Hertfordshire programme for Chlamydia testing ( 1 in 12 15-24 year olds have the disease and this age group should test annually if sexually active as it can affect fertility). The kit for home use is available through GP Practices, county pharmacists, family planning clinics or available on line. Males need to test urine and females to take a low vaginal swab. Positive results can be easily treated (60 County pharmacists as well as doctors can do this) and health education is also given. All secondary schools are sent a DVD on the subject.
Abdominal aortic aneurism screening This will begin in Hertfordshire in April 2013 which will be only for men in the year they are 65 as a one off test. It involves an ultrasound of the abdomen to measure the diameter of the artery. Risk of problems increase with age and rupture of the artery will lead to death and is 6 times more likely in men. Bowel Cancer Screening Mr Rodney Hallan spoke on the Bowel Cancer Screening programme - the test is offered to 6074 year olds every 2 years to carry out at home. It detects blood that is not necessarily visible in the stools. The kit is sent by post with 2% of the returns showing a need for follow-up. For these patients a colonoscopy is performed with 1 in 10 showing cancer - but high and low risk bleeding polyps are also detected which may turn cancerous. Treatment is far more successful if the disease is detected at an early stage A change in bowel habit for more than 6 weeks, particularly if looser or bleeding, are symptoms that should be reported to a doctor. Eye Screening Don Lydon, an optometrist, outlined common eye screening procedures that are carried out as part of an eye test. Amongst them glaucoma and age related macular degeneration are diseases checked for. Diabetics are monitored by retinal examination for eye deterioration, and children for lazy eyes.
Cervical Screening General Surgery Screening Sue Marsden reported on the success of cervical screening - a test looking for early cell change before cancer develops. The death rate from the disease has fallen by 70% since screening started and the biggest risk factor for death is never attending for the test. Women below 49 years are tested every 3 years and then up to 65 every 5 years. An immunisation programme is now available through schools for 13 year olds. Sue also explained that breast cancer affects 1 in 9 women, 80% being over 50. 90% of these will survive if the disease is caught at an early stage. The screening programme, run on a 3 yearly cycle, is for 50-70 year olds but over 70s may request to be included. Mammography is very reliable, carried out in a mobile unit and results delivered within 2 weeks. Breast awareness is also important - knowing what is normal for the
Doctor Cashyap, who kindly chaired the evening, finished by talking about a few screening routines carried out in the Surgery. She explained how family history was important to alert for possible problems. Depression screening is carried out to rate not only for those with the disease but also for those who have chronic conditions. The PSA test for prostate cancer is not an accurate test and digital examination is better. A full screening health check, which cannot currently be funded on the NHS, would take an hour in the Surgery . Our questions were answered at the end of this very informative evening with the key message being to take part when invited for all screening procedures.