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Health chiefs in Argyll and Bute have pledged to work towards more people being able to see a GP in person, after a report revealed that accident and emergency visits were double their July target.
Numbers visiting community hospitals across Argyll and Bute during the month were shown to be 2,276 against a target of 1,244 – with a health board member attributing the numbers to a lack of opportunities to see a GP.
Betty Rhodick, a public member of the integration joint board (IJB) which oversees the work of the Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP), also said that residents were ‘despondent’ about being told there was no need to see their doctor.
The discussion took place at a virtual meeting of the IJB last Wednesday, September 15.
Rebecca Helliwell, the HSCP’s associate medical director, said: ‘We probably undervalue the benefit of a face-to-face consultation.
‘We recognise the need to talk through any worries, and the value of doing this with a real person rather than somebody on the end of a phone; we are now seeing the benefit of that.
‘We need to work towards ways of seeing people; that is person-centred and it enables us to get through the workload in a safe way.’
Mrs Rhodick added that Covid couldn’t be blamed for the situation as issues had existed before the pandemic.
Fiona Davies, the HSCP’s interim chief officer, said: ‘We know there has been a shortage of GPs before Covid.
‘There has been a real change in the workload we expect from GPs; we are asking them to manage more complex care.
‘That has not been a straightforward piece of work because Covid came in the middle of it all and accelerated the need for change.
‘I want to thank all the GPs in Argyll and Bute who have gone over and beyond what could be expected. Their role is changing and haven’t they all pulled it out of the bag?
‘This is not just with the Covid-19 vaccines; I want to go on record and thank all GPs. We really appreciate what they offer into our health and social care work.’