Plans afoot to fragment these teams

MANY of the rural GP practices in North Somerset are, I believe, some of the best in the land. They are efficiently run and patients are still professionally cared for with dignity, trust and confidence by the GP teams. It is with abject frustration that

MANY of the rural GP practices in North Somerset are, I believe, some of the best in the land. They are efficiently run and patients are still professionally cared for with dignity, trust and confidence by the GP teams. It is with abject frustration that I discovered that there are plans afoot in North Somerset Primary Care Trust (PCT) to fragment these teams by taking away the district nurses from rural GP practices and putting them all under one umbrella in Nailsea. I delved a little deeper only to discover that health visitors and social workers are off too. This kind of 'asset stripping' will, once again, hit the rural practices hard, rendering them ever closer to non-viability. Surely to do this to rural GP practices flies in the face of Government policy to achieve a more 'community-based' efficient NHS. The result of this travesty will be the loss of that vital communication which currently exists through district nurses being attached to practices where they know both the patients and their doctors; where the patients are cared for as people, not as mere symptoms requiring treatment. Nurses based in Nailsea will effectively be paid to sit in cars getting from one patient to another or for spending time and fuel scouring the countryside looking for patients' houses through the maze of roads in Nempnett Thrubwell or Butcombe for example. There will be a reduction in sister posts and it is anticipated that sisters will spend only 30 percent of their time 'hands-on'. Disproportionate amounts of time will be spent finding and visiting patients for whom they may need to prescribe, but about whom they know little and whom they may never visit again. What a waste of all that expertise and experience.Nurses won't have time to investigate and address contributory causes - time will only be allocated to treat the symptoms as they present. Is this efficient? The PCT apparently claims that this latest plan is not a cost-cutting exercise, so what is it? What happened to that document 'Shaping Our Future - You spoke, we are listening' which promised consultation meetings on such subjects? I have followed the PCT's consultations and attended many of their meetings. I haven't seen anything relating to this latest debacle which strikes at the heart of the patient care approach that our GPs and their surgery teams have so wonderfully striven for and achieved over many years. Please, North Somerset revisit this whole scenario as it pertains to the rural areas.May we have a full meeting with GPs, district nurses, health visitors, social works and patients - all from only the rural areas, together, and let us show what can happen with the full team working together.GARETH JONES Winscombe


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