Updated government guidance on PPE
Whilst the government guidance changed on the 19th July in respect to the wearing of masks we will continue to ask that they be worn when attending the practice.
As a health care provider we have worked tirelessly over the past 15 months to create a safe environment within which staff can work and you can attend. Whilst the number of positive cases continues to rise we believe it appropriate to continue with our current arrangements. You will therefore continue to be asked the COVID related questions, asked to wear a mask and you will be socially distanced in the waiting room.
Please note that we are still open from 8:30am until 6pm and we are still operating on a telephone triage basis initially, however, if you need to be seen face to face then the clinician will book you in.
Please respect the job that the receptionists are doing, they are working to protocols set out by NHS England and the partners in order to keep this practice operating as safely and efficiently as possible.
We hope you understand the reason for us continuing to work in this manner: the situation will be reviewed regularly and changes made where appropriate. Our key focus is keeping the staff and community as safe as possible, thank you for your understanding and continued support.
Covid 19 Vaccination Programme Update
We are contacting patients to book them into a covid-19 vaccination clinic in accordance with the criteria set by the Government.
As of 15 February, the covid-19 vaccine is being given to:
- people aged 65 and over
- people who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- people who are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable)
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
More information can be found on the CCG’s website in the Frequently Asked Questions section https://www.sheffieldccg.nhs.uk/Your-Health/covid-19-vaccine-faqs.htm
Contact Information for COVID vaccinations
If you have not yet been invited for your COVID vaccination it may be due to your records not having an up to date mobile telephone number and / or you have not consented to receiving SMS text messages.
Please ensure that your details are correct, this can be done the following ways:
- Online if you are registered as an online user
- by completing an online form through the website https://www.foxhillmedicalcentre.co.uk/update-your-patient-record
Covid 19 Germ Defence - Information for patients
The following website will help you find out how to protect yourself. After a bit of practice the ideas and advice in Germ Defence will become habits and they will help protect you from coronavirus - and other germs in the future:
COVID-19 Vaccination Pass
From 17 May 2021, people in England who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can demonstrate their vaccination status for international travel. A full course is currently two doses of any approved vaccine. Vaccine status will be available through the NHS COVID Pass service from:
the NHS App which you can download from app stores
the NHS website
119 - by requesting a paper letter
You will need to register to use the online services, if you have not already. It may take more than a week for your identity to be checked and verified.
If you cannot access the online services, and you have had both doses of the vaccine, you can request a paper letter from the NHS by calling 119. Only call 119 if you are due to travel outside the UK in the near future and have had your second dose more than 5 working days ago. It may take up to 7 working days for the letter to arrive.
This practice is not able to provide you with a letter that shows your COVID-19 vaccination status. Please do not contact the practice about your COVID-19 vaccination status unless you have been advised to by the 119 service.
When you're planning your travel, you should check the latest information on demonstrating your COVID-19 status when travelling abroad on the gov.uk website. Make sure there is enough time to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status before you are due to travel.
Information / Updates
We receive many complaints regarding insufficient number of GP appointments. Going forward Foxhill will provide 158 hours of GP time which is the equivalent of 4.6 whole time equivalent (WTE) GPs. A practice of our size would be expected to have 3.5WTE. We provide 396 GP appointments where the 'recommended/average' would be 336 for a practice of our size. If you experience a problem in booking an appointment, this is likely due to high demand rather than provision of service. If you remain dissatisfied with the service please direct the complaint to your local MP.
Letter to patients
Dear Foxhill Medical Centre patients
Over the years FMC have formed lots of incredible, positive relationships with our patients, our Patient Participation Group and other Practices in our Primary Care Network.
However, I can’t express how disappointed and frustrated the recent media coverage about GP Practices has made me feel. They are spreading information that simply isn't true, saying that GP practices have been closed throughout the pandemic and suggesting that we’ve been lazy, sat back doing nothing.
I wanted to let all of our patients know (as many of you already do) that my colleagues have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and we've been open throughout. Our clinicians have been calling patients to triage them and have seen them face to face where necessary. We were told to use a triage system by the Government/NHSE at the outset of the pandemic and this is what many GP practices have done for several years.
Several months ago, demand on GP Practices was estimated to be beyond capacity at over 157%. You will likely have heard about the increased demand on our local hospitals A&E and Critical Care departments due to the pandemic but the Government and the media have chosen not to talk about the increased demand on GP practices. Across the country, GP practices are seeing this unprecedented demand increase even further over the last few weeks and demand has gone up even more by another 20% on top of the earlier figure.
If we aren’t able to answer your call straight away and you have to wait in a queue or get an engaged tone because the queue is full, please do not think that this is because our receptionists aren’t answering the phones. I can assure you that they are - there are just more patients trying to get through on the phone than we have the capacity to answer (this is also the experience of most GP practices across the country). They are trying their best to answer as many calls as possible and as quickly as possible. Quite frankly, they are doing an absolutely amazing job.
When you call us, if you are advised that all of our appointments are fully booked, you will always be told about the other options available to you including appointments at local hubs, the walk in centre, a pharmacist, self-referrals and so on. You can also find lots of information on our website about self-care and what other help is available.
We rely on funding from NHS England to run our practice. we have not received enough increase in funding to allow us to provide any additional capacity for meeting the needs of our patients despite the increase in demand on the services we provide. Many of our staff members work way beyond the hours that they are paid for simply because we care about our patients, their families and our entire community.
If you ever feel the need to complain about lack of appointments or availability of your doctors please consider petitioning your local MPs for increased services or funding to Primary Care. We are doing the best with what we have got at this present time.
I know that times have been tough for everyone recently but we do get some lovely feedback from our patients - these kind words of thanks and/or appreciation mean so much to us, especially in the current climate.
I could not be prouder of each and every one of my colleagues right now. The resilience they’ve shown adapting to all of the hurdles that are thrown at us on a weekly basis is absolutely remarkable. They truly are amazing.
Please stand by us - we love our jobs supporting you but we can only do this with your support too.
Business Manager at Foxhill Medical Centre
(Mum, wife, sister, daughter, friend and colleague)
Update on General Practice Data for planning and research
We wanted to share some information that we have received from the Department of Health and Social Care on 19th July 2021:
Patient data from general practice has significantly contributed to the improvement of health and care services and treatments for many years. Patients rightly trust their GP to safeguard their data, a role that we know that all general practitioners take very seriously. This is why I am writing to share more information with you about how we are working to improve how this data is collected.
NHS Digital is making improvements to how data is collected from general practice, with a new framework for data extraction called the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) collection. You will have seen the announcement to pause the collection of this data, to provide more time to engage with GPs, patients, health charities and others, and to strengthen the plan. We are working in collaboration with a range of partners including the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA). I want to reassure you that we have heard your concerns loud and clear and will continue to listen.
I am writing now to provide an update on the four key areas of work to strengthen the plan. We hope this will foster your trust in the system and provide a strong basis for you and your patients to participate in the scheme with confidence. Most importantly, I can confirm today that, while we are continuing to work on the infrastructure, and communication for the project, we are not setting a specific start date for the collection of data. Instead, we commit to start uploading data only when we have the following in place:
- the ability to delete data if patients choose to opt-out of sharing their GP data with NHS Digital, even if this is after their data has been uploaded;
- the backlog of opt-outs has been fully cleared;
- a Trusted Research Environment has been developed and implemented in NHS Digital;
- patients have been made more aware of the scheme through a campaign of engagement and communication. In this letter each of these adjustments are set out, all of which are critical to the success and impact of the programme, including through better understanding of the huge benefits the programme will have to the NHS and to our ability to provide the best and safest possible care for patients.
We want to make the position around opt-out much simpler. While 1st September has been seen by some as a cut-off date for opt-out, after which data extraction would begin, I want to reassure you that this will not be the case and data extraction will not commence until we have met the tests. We are introducing three changes to the opt-out system which mean that patients will be able to change their opt-out status at any time:
- Patients do not need to register a Type 1 opt-out by 1st September to ensure their GP data will not be uploaded;
- NHS Digital will create the technical means to allow GP data that has previously been uploaded to the system via the GPDPR collection to be deleted when someone registers a Type 1 opt-out;
- The plan to retire Type 1 opt-outs will be deferred for at least 12 months while we get the new arrangements up and running, and will not be implemented without consultation with the RCGP, the BMA and the National Data Guardian.
Together, these changes mean that patients can have confidence that they will have the ability to opt-in or opt-out of the system, and that the dataset will always reflect their current preference. And we will ensure it is easy for them to exercise the choice to optout.
We will also ensure that the NHS Digital Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) reflecting these changes to the programme is published well before data collection commences. A template DPIA for practice use will also be made available in good time to allow practices to complete it.
Data Security and Governance
The Government has committed that access to GP data will only be via a Trusted Research Environment (TRE) and never copied or shipped outside the NHS secure environment, except where individuals have consented to their data being accessed e.g. written consent for a research study. This is intended to give both GPs and patients a very high degree of confidence that their data will be safe and their privacy protected. The TRE will be built in line with best practice developed in projects, such as OpenSAFELY and the Office for National Statistics’ Secure Research Service.
We are also committed to adopting a transparent approach, including publishing who has run what query and used which bit of data. We are developing a TRE which will meet our specific needs and act as “best in class”. We commit to only begin the data collection once the TRE is in place. Further, we will ensure that the BMA, RCGP and the National Data Guardian have oversight of the proposed arrangements and are satisfied with them before data upload begins.
I can also confirm that the previously published Data Provision Notice for this collection has been withdrawn.
Once the data is collected, it will only be used for the purposes of improving health and care. Patient data is not for sale and will never be for sale.
Transparency, communications and engagement
There has been a great deal of concern regarding the lack of awareness amongst the healthcare system and patients. We recognise that we need to strengthen engagement, including opportunities for non-digital engagement and communication. Since the programme has been paused, we have been developing an engagement and communications campaign, with the goal of ensuring that the healthcare system and patients are aware and understand what is planned, and can make informed choices. The public rightly look to and trust general practice - through a centrally driven communication campaign, with clear messages, we will seek to ensure that the introduction of this collection does not impose an additional burden on practices.
We are developing a communications strategy delivered through four phases.
- Listening - where we listen to stakeholders and gather views on how best to communicate with the profession, patients and the public and give them the opportunity to inform the development of the programme in areas such as opt-outs, trusted research environments and other significant areas;
- Consultation - a series of events where we can explain the programme, listen and capture feedback and co-design the information campaign;
- Demonstration - show how feedback is being used to develop the programme and shape communications to the healthcare system and the public;
- Delivery - of an information campaign to inform the healthcare system and the public about changes to how their GP data is used, that utilises the first three phases to ensure the campaign is accessible, has wide reach and is effective.
Data saves lives. The vaccine rollout for COVID-19 could not have been achieved without patient data. The discovery that the steroid Dexamethasone could save the lives of one third of the most vulnerable patients with COVID-19 – those on ventilators - could not have been made without patient data from GP practices in England. That insight has gone on to save a million lives around the globe. That is why this programme is so important.
The programme and I will be providing further information as the programme progresses.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, you can contact the programme at email@example.com.
The NHS Digital web pages also provide further information at https://digital.nhs.uk/dataand-information/data-collections-and-data-sets/data-collections/general-practice-data-forplanning-and-research#additional-information-for-gp-practices.
Thank you for your continued support.
Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Primary Care and Health Promotion