Dr Hilary Floyd: GP Partner and Co-Medical Director - Surrey Downs Health and Care
Lorna Hart: Deputy Managing Director, Surrey Downs Integrated Care Partnership
Dr Hilary Floyd, Surrey Downs Health and Care, advised the panel that at present, a significant issue for primary care was that many of their patients were not attending appointments. This has resulted in some, particularly those with long-term health conditions becoming very unwell. Primary care is therefore looking at how they can increase appointments for those with long-term conditions, and are using a risk stratification to ensure those at greatest risk are seen first.
Primary care networks are also utilising additional resources that are now available.
The Covid oximetry at home service is also being used to monitor blood oxygen levels in patients who have Covid and who may be at higher risk of developing hypoxia and needing urgent hospital admission. This is being rolled out in partnership with Surrey Downs Health and Care, and across the 4 areas of Surrey Downs. Long Covid services also continue to operate.
Dr Floyd advised the Panel that primary care also continues to look at health inequalities, with a focus on patients with learning difficulties, ensuring the vaccination programme is targeting these individuals. Each Primary Care Network has access to the GP Integrated Mental Health Service and this has been especially valuable in respect of anxiety, depression and stress-related mental health that has seen an increase.
The main message primary care wishes to convey is that it is open to see patients and will be moving to offer a lot more face-to-face appointments.
Dr Floyd updated the Panel on the vaccination programme.
Dr Floyd reflected on the local service (the GP hub), located at Epsom racecourse, and the roving vaccination teams that have been visiting care homes, those unable to leave their homes, and those with a learning disability, and supported living schemes.
The GP vaccination hub is co-located with CSH at the racecourse and Dr Floyd thanked the support of Surrey County Council, Epsom and Ewell Borough Council and the Police in getting up and running. The site is also well supported by volunteers in being able to sign-post patients, and offer them transport.
The roll-out is proving effective and they are now about to start inviting cohort 7 for vaccination. Dr Floyd confirmed that to date, 100% of each cohort had received an invitation, with approximately 90% in each cohort taking up the vaccination.
Patient feedback and experience has been positive.
Dr Floyd commented that when the racecourse re-opens for racing, a new site will need to be secured and they are looking into this at present.
Mr. Bill Cassidy presented to the Panel on collaborative working, and the work being done to reach out to communities that may find it difficult to engage in the vaccination programme.
Mr. Cassidy also assured the Panel members that for the small percentage of those in the eligible cohorts who have not taken up the vaccine, further attempts are being made to contact them.
Barriers identified to taking up the vaccination offer include language, vaccine misconceptions and religious reasons.
Mr. Cassidy advised that they have set up some outreach clinics working with Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic residents. The Integrated Care Partnership is working with community leaders to build trust and offer assurance on vaccine safety. They are also able to offer ‘pop-up’ clinics for various communities and already have one planned for the Epsom Mosque.
Mr. Cassidy updated the Panel on the vaccination service for residents with learning disabilities (LD), and the LD teams had been making adjustments in line with the specific needs of the patients. They had completed all vaccinations in LD homes by the 14th February, and this was ahead of national target.
Mr Cassidy also noted work being undertaken:
· With the Council’s housing team, building a strategy around the homeless community. There is a possibility that Fitznells may be offered as a site.
· To engage the Gypsy, Romany Traveller (GRT) Community through working with specialist teams, and GRT influencers to help improve vaccine up-take. Cox Lane surgery can be offered as a site, and there is consideration being given for Kiln Lane to be offered as mobile site.
· To offer vaccines to those who meet the criteria as being a Carer. These will fall into cohort 6 as a priority group.
Mr. Cassidy commented on the huge success of the vaccination programme and thanked everyone for the collaborative working across agencies (and for the overwhelming support of volunteers), that had made this possible.