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DIY doctors set to slash wait times in Crawley

It has been revealed that 23% of people in Crawley are waiting longer than two weeks to get seen by a GP – with thousands waiting over a month for an appointment.

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Recent NHS figures suggest that 56% of residents in the town were not offered a choice of time or date for their appointment, and six in ten did not get a same-day appointment with a GP.

44% of people in Crawley find it difficult to get through to their practice by phone, and 23% of people in town described the experience of booking a GP appointment as poor.

The new report comes from Medicspot, a digital health company hoping to put an end to the wait in Crawley by allowing doctors to perform remote examinations using equipment operated by the patient.

This new initiative allows doctors to listen to a patient’s heart and lungs, look into their ears and throat, and take their vitals including blood pressure, oxygen levels and body temperature – all without needing to be in the same room.

Dr Zubair Ahmed, Co-founder of Medicspot, says:

“In light of these figures, we hope our service will offer a convenient alternative for people in Crawley and help ease some of the pressures the NHS is facing.

“Longer wait times lead to more strain on an already struggling NHS. When patients are forced to wait weeks to see a GP, they often end up waiting for hours at A&E”, Dr Ahmed explains.

A national survey of patients who have used the new service revealed 40% of respondents would have gone to accident and emergency if they didn’t use Medicspot – generating a £1.2 million saving for the NHS.

This saving comes after news A&E waiting times have hit the worst level on record, with one in six patients waiting more than 4 hours and warnings that patients are about to endure one of the bleakest winters in NHS history.

Medicspot is already available in over 250 pharmacies across the UK, where patients pay £39 for a same-day GP consultation. The company plans to bring the service to pharmacies across Crawley early next year.

While the majority of Medicspot patients are comfortable operating the equipment themselves, a trained pharmacist is always available for those who need help.

The full report from Medicspot is available online at https://www.medicspot.co.uk/reports/gp-report-2019.

Community

Local volunteers drive GPs to essential home visits in Crawley

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Image: Dr Phoebe Danes and volunteer Chris Ball.

Local volunteers have stepped up to help drive clinicians to home visits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative was launched by local GP federation Alliance for Better Care, who have rented black cabs to provide essential transport for clinicians attending patients’ homes. 

The taxis, which have been adapted to make them easier to clean, are driven by volunteer drivers who have come forward via various community Facebook groups.

Thanks to the layout of the cab, drivers are completely separated from the clinician who is also afforded extra space in the cab to put on PPE and write up notes. 

Matt Cullis, practice manager at Leacroft Medical Practice said:

“Our surgery is still open to treat patients, however, home visits have become particularly important for those who are shielding and not wanting to leave their homes. This service saves us time and allows our doctors to travel to appointments in an environment that can be easily cleaned and has room to put on PPE.”

Alliance for Better Care is the GP federation for Crawley, Horsham, Mid-Sussex and East Surrey and so far the project has been rolled out at Leacroft Surgery in Crawley and throughout Burgess Hill, with plans to extend it to East Grinstead and Horley in the coming weeks.

Katherine Saunders, ABC chief executive said:

“We have been overwhelmed with the number of volunteers who have come forward and we’d like to thank them all for offering to support this service. We are, of course, committed to protecting both our volunteers and our clinicians. We insure drivers and carry out all necessary checks while also providing PPE. This is a valuable resource for our clinicians, and increases our capacity to reach more patients.”

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