Tower Hamlets LMC newsletter – July 2023

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Dear colleagues,

Here is the summer 2023 newsletter from Tower Hamlets Local Medical Committee. We hope you find this newsletter informative: we are always very happy to hear from you and will do our best to help.

Service alerts
The LMC has heard that the ICB proposes to reduce the resource it puts into service alerts, leaving it to GPs to contact and chase service providers directly. Tower Hamlets LMC has robustly responded that this amounts to transferring unresourced work to GPs and failing to capture system learning about what issues in secondary services are causing recurrent or widespread problems. Other LMCs across NE London have joined in to ask that, where they have less effective support, they align to the Tower Hamlets model. A letter signed by LMC Chairs has been written to the Chair and Chief Executive of the ICB.

Minor ailments scheme
The LMC has been lobbying for some time for a minor ailments scheme to provide free over-the-counter remedies for simple ailments via pharmacies. This would simplify the patient journey and reduce the significant amount of GP time taken up with consultations that do not require their expertise. In response, the ICB has proposed a scheme which is welcomed as far as it goes, but has limitations and is means-tested. The LMC continues to lobby for a comprehensive scheme, noting that for all patients entitled to free prescriptions the cost of medicines falls on the NHS in any case, and the load on GP consultations is additional, as is the administrative burden of means testing.

Safe care, workload levels and access requirements
Dr Elliott Singer, Londonwide LMCs’ Medical Director for North East London, has given a webinar on safe working in general practice in the context of the GMS contract imposed by the government. It is available here.

Community health services
East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) community health services have created an “I am a GP in Tower Hamlets” website, which LMC members have found very useful and which is being recommended as a model to other places. Colleagues in ELFT are open to GPs getting in touch to help shape services and ensure patients can access them easily.

Patient access to records
The new deadline for providing patient online access to records is October. There are patient safeguarding issues with remote access to medical data, especially for vulnerable patients. There is a need to manage these issues, and practices can be working early to provide access to a number of patients at a time. The LMC agreed with points made by Dr Osman Bhatti that providing access to all patients at once would make the issues harder to manage. However, the message from the NHS nationally is that the change is compulsory.

Practice nurse training and recruitment
The LMC heard that practices can find it difficult to recruit practice nurses, and that when they do, it can be difficult to train up newer nurses, especially for smaller practices that do not have multiple nurses at different career stages. Rachel McCredie, the Practice Nurse Forum representative to the LMC, may be able to offer advice and contacts for training.

Other issues
The LMC is in ongoing discussions with commissioners and others about the Long-Term Conditions Outcomes Framework and other new contracts, spirometry, mental health provision, end-of-life care, sexual health and contraceptive services, and the restructuring and cuts in NHS NE London ICB. Agreement has been secured that there will be some exception reporting in the LTC outcomes, and a task-and-finish group is being established to look at the specifics.

Best wishes

Dr Jackie Applebee
Tower Hamlets LMC