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Sheffield Local Issues: Sheffield NHS UK GP Patient Survey Results for 2010

The Department of Health funded UK GP Patient Survey presents an excellent record of the actual quality of patient experience of using NHS GP services across England. The 2009-10 Q4 survey results have now been released that bring the total detailed questionnaires being sent out to patients during the year to more than 5.5 million across England of which 2.17 million have been returned.

For the city of Sheffield a total of 65,339 questionnaires were sent out to the patients of Sheffield's 92 GP surgeries of which 27,380 were returned, from which detailed results were compiled as listed below for the Overall Satisfaction category for all of Sheffield's GP surgeries ranked in order from best to worst.

Results Analysis

Of Sheffield's 92 GP surgeries, 24 or 26% managed to achieve a rating of 95% or higher, which given the importance of health care should be the minimum goal for ALL GP surgeries. Next 43 (46%) of Sheffield GP surgeries managed to attain a patient satisfaction level of 90-94% of their patients, 19 (20%) between 85% and 89%, followed by 6 GP surgeries scraping the bottom of the barrel, notably Darnall Community Health coming in at an abysmally poor bottom ranking of just 68%.

Sheffield's Top 5 GP Surgeries

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  Level of Satisfaction Q1-Q4 Level of Satisfaction Q1-Q3

The results show that Sheffield's best performing Surgeries continue to cluster in the affluent areas of the city, which is reflective of the 'post code lottery' where those that reside in the affluent wards due to more likely being professionals are able to demand a better quality of NHS GP services than those that tend to reside in the deprived wards who tend to suffer in silent as to what passes for health care provision which plays a significant part in contributing to a more than 14 YEAR GAP IN LIFE EXPECTANCY between peoples living just a few miles distance from one another, which has been commented upon in the past by the Sheffield MP and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg :

"It is an outrage that social mobility has slowed, not increased, under the Blair-Brown years. It is an outrage that in Sheffield, where I’m an MP, life expectancy in the poorest wards is a full 14 years below the life expectancy of those living in the wealthiest wards. Your life chances are now set by the circumstances of your birth as never before."

Sheffield's Bottom 5 GP Surgeries

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  Level of Satisfaction Q1-Q4 Level of Satisfaction Q1-Q3

Sheffield's worst ranked GP surgeries on balance showed a slight improvement over the earlier Q1-Q3 results, all that is except Darnall Community Health that has sunk to new depths where virtually 1/3rd of the surgeries patients are dissatisfied at the quality of health care received. The Sheffield Primary Care Trust had promised an improvement for Q4 which failed to materialise that should warrant urgent attention to get to the root cause of the consistent lack of performance.

Sheffield PCT had publicised a year ago that a new £5.5 million medical centre would be built in Darnall by now, but a year on the proposed site remains untouched, which implies the new medical centre remains at least a year away from completion. However building a new centre does not necessary mean that there will be significant improvement in the health of the people of Darnall as to all intents and purposes the keys to the new centre will be handed to the staff of the existing GP surgeries rather than seeking to recruit the best people for the job.

GP's Ignoring Patient Symptoms and Official NHS Statistics

The manifestation of why patients rate some surgeries so low is because these GP's are more predisposed to IGNORING patient symptoms. Which effectively means a large number of patients of these surgeries have more or less given up in attempting to get proper diagnoses which results in a huge disparity in the statistics reported by the GP surgeries to the PCT against the actual state of health care delivery these surgery provide as measured by the UK GP Patient Survey, which is why the official NHS statistics which paint a picture of near uniform health care delivery across all GP surgeries is more or less worthless as it EXCLUDES all those patients who have given up and stopped visiting their GP's.

Another Sheffield PCT Consultation

The Sheffield PCT has completed yet another consultation as to whether patients should have the right to choose the GP surgery they can register with regardless of distance, as patients remain locked into their local GP surgeries which the GP Patient Survey illustrates shows a wide disparity in the quality of patient experience.

A recent National Audit Office Report painted a picture of a widening gap in life expectancy between affluent and deprived areas of the country of more than 10 years as a consequence of GP's in deprived areas effectively failing to do their jobs as the report implies GP's ignore the symptoms of a large section of their patients which results in less resources being plowed into high disease prevalence deprived areas in favour of more resources being directed to low disease prevalence affluent areas which really does represent a failure of the GP's to do their jobs.

Department of Health - Tackling inequalities in life expectancy in areas with the worst health and deprivation

GP's provide the main access point to healthcare and are crucial to providing care to the neediest groups. The main lever for rewarding their activity is the Quality and Outcomes Framework which was introduced in 2004. However, it does not provide enough of an incentive to target GPs attention on the neediest groups. GPs can achieve full payment of the additional income available under this framework without covering the entire practice population and as a result the hardest to reach and most in need groups may not be helped through this framework. In addition, until 2009, payments were scaled in such a way that areas with high disease prevalence, often concentrated in deprived areas, received less remuneration per patient than those with low prevalence, and payments to practices did not fully reflect the level of illness in the practice population. By 2011, payments are expected to fully reflect the level of need with consequent redistribution of payments between practices.

Sheffield GP Super Surgery Polyclinic NHS Healthcare Centre

The last Labour governments solution towards poorly performing GP surgeries were the Super Surgeries or Poly Clinics. Sheffield saw its own GP Polyclinic or Super Surgery open during mid 2009 that aimed to fill the gap in the wide disparity in quality of GP health care throughout the city by operating 7 days a week from 8am to 8pm.

The latest UK GP Patient survey data for the first time includes patient feed back for the new GP surgery which registers a patient satisfaction rating of 95%, which therefore meets my minimum criteria for a good GP surgery.

The new Polyclinic is situated in the centre of Sheffield on the corner of Rockingham Street and Broad Lane, which allows any member of the public to walk in and see a doctor without the need to be registered with the health centre that offer a wide range of healthcare services. Which presents a good alternative to Sheffield's bottom ranking GP surgeries despite the need to travel several miles. However where ones health is concerned that should be a small price to pay.

Results For All 92 Sheffield GP Surgeries Ranked in Order of Patient Overall Satisfaction of Care Received

Data Source -

By Nadeem Walayat

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