On the 11th of May we held our quarterly guest speaker event and board meeting held in public. Our theme for the day was primary care and we invited two speakers to talk and we were lucky enough to have Andy Blackstock from the Care Quality Commission and Caris Thomas from Healthwatch Slough come to talk to the attendees and our board about their work with GP practices.

The Care Quality Commission & GP Inspections

Andy kindly took a day off from inspecting to tell us about the current ongoing inspections of GP practices in Buckinghamshire, how they are performed, and what a practice needs to do to achieve an outstanding grade. Recently John Hampden Surgery, Prestwood was awarded the only outstanding in Buckinghamshire so far under the new inspection guidelines. It received high praise for helping the inspection to run smoothly by preparing properly for the inspection, ensuring all paperwork was ready and accessible, and the practice manager was positive about both the CQC inspection and the direction of the practice. Andy conceded the area that the CQC struggles is in collecting patient feedback, this is in spite of sending out special CQC feedback cards to practices to display and collect in the run up to an inspection.

Andy’s presentation: Primary Care in Buckinghamshire and CQC

The CQC aim to have finished their inspections of all Buckinghamshire GP practices by September, with 22 already done. 1 was rated outstanding, 15 as good, 6 requiring improvement and 0 inadequate. The reports can be read on the CQC website.

Healthwatch Slough and GP Communications

Our second guest speaker Caris Thomas from Healthwatch Slough presented on their project undertaken last year on GP practices. The project investigated the communication to patients surrounding extended GP hours in Slough, and resulted in them looking at a much broader topic of communications to patients in general. The key issues found are all centred around the same topic – consistency. Practices differed vastly in the information given on their websites, on their answerphone messages, and the facilities available that could be used to book appointments. For example in some practices you can book an extended hours appointment during the extended hours (in the evening and on weekends) but at others you can only book them during normal hours. Their project provides great examples of how patient feedback and observations can positively impact services for the benefit of patients. Since the project was published two out of three websites which at the time of the project did not have a website now have one. The key recommendations to practices in Slough focus on consistency in messaging across the area, and can be found on page 13 of the briefing document below.

Healthwatch Slough briefing document

Caris’ presentation: Healthwatch Slough Briefing – The Walk-In Experience

Following the presentations was a short break then our board meeting, in which our two project managers Victoria and Alison gave updates about their projects.

PPG Project update given by Victoria

We started providing support to PPGs in Chiltern CCG on the 1st October 2015. The project will last for 2 years. In the first 6 months we have had contact with or supported 23 Patient Participation Groups within Chiltern CCG. Our support has consisted of helping the few practices who did not have a PPG to set one up, encouraging and supporting PPGs to sign up to NAPP (National Association of Patient Participation), we held a workshop where we showed how PPGs can use social media to improve patient engagement and ways in which they can increase patient engagement in more general terms – such as setting out projects to engage with patients. We are now looking at ways in which to support PPGs in becoming more confident in being self-led, whilst maintaining a strong working relationship with their practices.

Our PPG resources page is available to all PPGs across the county.

Dignity in Care update given by Alison

Recently we published our Annual Review of Dignity in Care in which summarised our work with care homes over the last year. We have visited 20 care homes, spoken to 109 residents, and observed a further 310 individuals. We looked at 5 key areas and gave each care home a star rating out of 5. Four homes received a rating of 5*s, fourteen got 4*s, and two were given 3*s. We found no instances which required reporting to any safeguarding boards or the CQC. As a result of our reviews and recommendations, care homes have; arranged bespoke staff training, personalised doors for residents to make give them ownership over their environment, and increased checks to thermostats to improve heating consistency in living spaces. We are going to be continuing our work with care homes over the next year and look forward to helping homes improve for their residents. From the audience Mike Appleyard (on behalf of Bucks County Council) said “we really like what you’ve done [on the project]” and that the programme should continue. He followed on to say that dignity in care is relevant not just to social care, but healthcare as well, and that there is a case to expand the project. Bucks County Council wanted Healthwatch Bucks to know “how much we value this.”


Our next speaker event and board meeting is on the 13th of July at The Gatehouse in Aylesbury. Interim Chair of Healthwatch England, Jane Mordue, will be presenting at the event, more information about the event will be published closer to the time.

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