Extra services planned for Ipswich GP surgeries – here’s what you can expect
PUBLISHED: 16:09 03 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:32 03 March 2020
Fears have been raised that changes to primary healthcare in Ipswich will not address the needs of patients.
Ipswich Borough Council launched a task force last year to assess plans for five 'super surgery' GP hubs mooted for the town, but at a meeting of the council's scrutiny committee last week health bosses confirmed it was an aspiration rather than a concrete plan.
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David Brown, deputy chief operating officer at Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Three or four years ago we did an exercise to see where, in an ideal world, we would look to have those.
"Our ability to move surgeries around is relatively limited because the GPs generally either own the building or they are tied in to a lease arrangement which they are not able to get out of. What we said was we had a bit of an idea of what we might do if any of those things changed."
The Two Rivers Medical Centre opened in 2016 as the first super surgery offering more services - essentially a merger of the Lattice Barn and Woodbridge Road surgeries, with another GP hub being eyed for the former Tooks Bakery site alongside homes.
Instead, the CCG is helping surgeries develop primary care networks - a set-up where surgeries can offer physiotherapists, mental health practitioners, pharmacists and paramedics to help people see the health worker most appropriate for their need.
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Mr Brown said: "If you go to your GP today, you will probably see either a GP or practice nurse.
"But [under primary care networks] you might see a physio, you might see a paramedic, a pharmacist, and the idea is if you can expand that team you can see more people getting the care appropriate to their need, but the other thing is it creates more capacity.
"If you see your GP for an appointment you didn't need to take, that is one someone who needs it can have. If you can do that often enough, it is the equivalent of an extra GP."
Each primary care network is deciding what need is most appropriate for its patients, meaning a firm timetable for each surgery has not been laid out.
But the borough council's scrutiny committee has raised fears that the changes may not address the experience of patients.
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Councillor Sheila Handley who put forward the task force proposals said there were "important questions about healthcare provision for our residents" while councillor Sandra Gage added: "The reality is you can ring up your GP and you won't get an appointment for at least a fortnight, or you need to phone every morning. I cannot see how this is dealing with that issue here and now".
The council's task group is to investigate how the new primary care plans will meet the needs of people in Ipswich, and present its findings back later in the year.