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Ivy Grove News 15.3 September 2017 Patient Newsletter

Here you will find an online edition of our popular patient newsletter, Ivy Grove News. Click the images below, or scroll down to read the newsletter. You may wish to download a PDF This is a PDF download of this edition, or you can view or download older versions of the patient newsletter from our newsletter page.


Some Uncomfortable Truths about General Practice

You may have seen recent footage about Ivy Grove regarding the videos we have on our website. You may even have been one of over half a million viewers of our videos on social media, comprising extremely supportive patients and practices from all over the country. If you haven’t seen the videos yet, please head over to our website at ivy.gs. Our videos do speak for themselves; however we feel we must respond to some of the rather more ill-informed comments made.

Just to clarify, our videos are not endorsed by or connected to the CCG or any official NHS or government organisation. Even though we are your GPs, we are entitled to relay an honest account of what is happening in the NHS, because we are all patients at the end of the day. We do feel we need to let people know what is happening behind the scenes of general practice, even though telling the truth is sometimes uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing.

Ivy Grove Surgery has always aimed to provide high quality and friendly family health care with its hardworking and dedicated team of doctors, nurses, reception and admin staff - accordingly we feel we have a duty to inform patients if we consider there is anything that could put this at risk. The videos were therefore borne out of this need to make our patients aware about the perilous state of General Practice all around the country.

The facts and figures within our videos are not simply 'our own opinion'. Although some may claim such information to be 'misleading' or 'inaccurate', all data is in fact derived from verifiable sources which are freely available in the public domain to anyone wishing to do their own research.

The issues mentioned are faced not only by Ivy Grove Surgery, the Ripley locality or indeed wider Derbyshire but also by thousands of GP surgeries all over the country, on very much a daily basis – see leaflet attached to this newsletter to view the national UK picture.


The focus of the videos (which appears to have been lost in the furore) is not only to explain the situation to our patients, but also to offer some real and practical solutions to them in terms of self-help, symptom-checking and self-referral, all of which are in line with current NHS philosophy and future plans to empower patients to self-care.

We would like to reassure our patients that we remain a strong and viable practice, however, we are well aware there are a significant number of practices nationwide that are in a precarious state. If General Practice collapses, then with absolute certainty, the rest of the NHS will quickly follow. Ultimately, if these videos can help to open up an honest and much-needed debate about General Practice and the politics behind it all, then this would surely be welcome.

If you wish to view or share our videos or just want to see what all the fuss is about, please head over to ivy.gs/movie1 and ivy.gs/movie2.

Make the Most of Your GP part 14

Don’t poke cotton buds in your ear!

Yes, we know cotton buds are almost too perfectly shaped to be inserted into the ear, however, as they say, you should never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear! The skin within the ear is very sensitive and fragile, and can be easily damaged by literally anything that it gets into contact with, including water, shampoo and cotton buds. We would always advise that you seek the help of a pharmacist in the first instance if you think you have problems with ear wax.

Make sure we have an up-to-date contact number

As mentioned later in this newsletter, we have a new text messaging service. If you want to take part in this service, please let us have your correct mobile number. In the future, we may be able to send messages to landline phones.

Urgent Medication Issues

Like many other surgeries, repeat prescriptions need two working days for us to process. This gives us time to perform checks and maintain safety. We are getting increasing numbers of requests for repeat medication to be issued urgently due to a lack of simple forward planning from patients. Such requests delay other patients’ prescriptions and increase the risk of mistakes. We will now only issue urgent medications if they are on a list of medications that are considered essential to continue without a break.

Award for Best Care by a GP

Dr Justine Horton recounts receiving her award

I was most surprised to receive a phone call from an organisation called NASS (National Ankylosing Spondylosis Society, link opens in a new window) last September inviting me to attend an awards ceremony in early November at the Palace of Westminster. One of my patients had kindly nominated me for this.

The day itself came around very quickly and my guest (my 16 year old son, Wilf) and I boarded the train at our village station and headed off to London where we soon found ourselves at Parliament. It felt a little like going through airport security with X ray machines and lots of uniforms and CCTV but soon we found ourselves within the beautiful building with access to The Houses of Lords and Commons which we visited and had the opportunity to witness some debates about community pharmacies and social care reforms which was fascinating and very relevant. We even saw Jeremy Hunt!

At 4pm we headed out to the terrace where we enjoyed afternoon tea on the banks of the Thames, watching the London Eye gently revolving in the evening sky. We met other clinicians, researchers and the patients. I felt like a minor celebrity with people introducing me to MPs, scientists and other doctors and physiotherapists.

When I was presented with my award, a plaque with my name and the title, “Best care by a GP”, a short extract of the nomination from the patient was read out and I had to fight back tears. It was so touching to feel that somebody had taken the time to write about the care they had received from me and to learn that they felt I’d made a difference to their life.

“Dr Justine Horton is an amazing lady who will go above and beyond to help and support me in anyway, this lady in my opinion certainly ‘changes my life’, not on a one off basis but on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

No matter what I go to my doctor regarding (normally due to the medication or AS) she is eager to listen with compassion and understanding, she goes above and beyond and I believe truly cares about her patients. No problem is too small, no visit is too long, no conversation is too silly she makes me feel comfortable, safe and trusting. She does everything in her power to help, to investigate on ways to help and to follow up not just ‘treat you and leave you to it’

I just wish that everyone was lucky enough to have a ‘Dr Horton’ in their surgery to ‘change their life’. In times of hardship with the NHS this doctor is fully committed to her patients and I cannot praise her enough”.

I have wanted to be a GP since I was 11 years old and consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to realise my dream. Family medicine is fascinating and rewarding. I thoroughly enjoy the continuity of care it brings and the privileged position of being able to care for patients and their families throughout their lives. I worked as a locum for a year after my 3 year GP training to ensure I chose the right practice for me. I quickly realised that my heart lay in Ripley and I pride myself on striving to offer good safe clinical care with commitment and empathy and try to treat my patients with the same care as I would want for my own family.

General practice has changed considerably since I qualified and every day brings its stresses and pressures but I strive to make a difference. I had actually considered giving up on general practice the very week I received my award as I had received my first complaint and was feeling utterly demoralised. This award helped me see things in some better perspective and I resolved to keep doing my best in a career that I love.

I have been overwhelmed by the words (and tweets) of my colleagues and patients regarding this award. I don’t do my job in order to receive thanks and appreciation, but it was so very timely and I felt so moved that a patient felt they wanted to nominate me.

Whatever the future of General practice may bring, I would like my patients to know that I remain committed to giving the very best care that I can.

And it must be said that, here at Ivy Grove Surgery, we have a fabulous team of committed staff and this award would not have been possible without all of their efforts which deserve recognition too. So, in the current climate of under-funding and dissatisfaction, please remember, team. We can and do make a difference. So let’s keep it up!

Flu Season is here

Get your flu jab with us now!

Well, flu season is now officially here! We are inviting our eligible patients to have their flu jab at the surgery. Eligible patients will receive either a text to their mobile, a phone message or a letter. Every patient who has a repeat prescription will also receive a reminder message on the right hand side of their prescription.

The following patients are eligible for a flu jab here at the surgery:

If you are in one of the above eligible groups, please simply turn up at the flu clinic on Saturday, September 30th, between 8.30am and 12.00pm and your doctor or nurse will happily give you a flu jab. We will check your eligibility for a flu jab when you arrive.


As with previous years, we would strongly encourage any eligible patient to have a seasonal flu jab as they will be at risk of developing serious complications from catching flu, such as pneumonia.

Most people are absolutely fine after a flu jab, but you can sometimes get a sore arm, mild fever or chills. These symptoms usually settle after a few days. The injection does not contain any live virus and therefore, contrary to popular belief, cannot give you flu!

More information will be available on our website at ivy.gs/flu.

We would encourage all our eligible patients to have their flu jab with us this year. You may think that by going elsewhere you are helping to ease the pressure on our services. In fact, the surgery is more than capable of organising an efficient and effective flu campaign, covering literally thousands of patients all in one go.

Last year, hundreds of our patients had their flu jab elsewhere, at local chemists and supermarkets, meaning reduced funding available for your local surgery. This puts the GP surgery at risk. At a time when GP services are already struggling, we appreciate your support in continuing to have your flu jab with us. Thank you.

News Snippets

Recruitment scheme woes

July 2017: Following promises to create an extra 5000 additional doctors working in general practice by 2020, a ‘major new international recruitment campaign’ to attract as many as 500 extra GPs from overseas was established. NHS England reports that the scheme has so far recruited only 38 doctors - 28 GPs to Lincolnshire and 10 GPs to Essex.

400 GPs quitting every month

Official figures show that GPs are leaving the NHS at a rate of about 1 every two hours. Although more GPs joined than left, the total figure is less that what it was 3 years ago, meaning the government’s promise of 5,000 new GPs is even more unlikely to be realised. Rising workload and falling income are to blame. In a bid to find more GPs, £100m of NHS money will be paid to recruitment agencies to find GPs from overseas.

Help your GP surgery by first helping yourself

The above represents some frankly bewildering solutions to the problem when obviously GP surgeries everywhere are suffering due to years of chronic underfunding, escalating workloads and endless admin, compounded by over-regulation and unrealistic political promises.

Since the obvious solution does not seem to be coming, we do need your help and support. Before you pick up the phone, please visit our website help page (ivy.gs/help), our symptom checker (ivy.gs/symptoms) or read our leaflet on getting the right help for your condition (attached to this newsletter, link opens in a new window). By doing so, you are helping us to keep our appointments available for those who do really need to see us.

£580,000 spent on Management Consultants to draw up NHS plans

Patients may not know that plans, called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (or STPs) for short, have been drawn up by health bodies all over the country. The actual (and expressed) purpose of these plans is to help make £22 billion of ‘efficiency savings’ by 2020/21.

Patients may also not realise that throughout England, teams of management consultants have been paid £21 million to draw up these plans, and that £8.5 million has been spent on new jobs created within these STPs.

It may further surprise Derbyshire patients to know that the area came 6th in a league table of areas spending the most on STPs, handing out an incredible £579,700 to management consultants.

At a time when General Practice and other areas of the health service are suffering from years of chronic underfunding and struggling to maintain services for patients, it seems incredible that such a vast amount of money is being spent in this way.

At a time when the aims of STPs are to increase community-based care, it is sad to report that such plans are being designed by teams of management consultants from international firms, and not by the very people on the ground who will be involved in and be providing such care.

Want to know more about STPs? Let us know.

A Blast from the Past – a look at previous newsletters

We look at some old issues

Reflection is the latest in-thing, and since Ivy Grove News will 15 years old next year, let’s take a look at old issues from the archives.

First off, we have Spring 2002, where we had an article on the perennial subject of antibiotic prescribing, and overuse leading to increasing bacterial resistance. In the same issue there was a description on how to use our triage system for appointments.

In 2008, we toyed briefly with folded A3 newsletters, which, whilst looking rather neat, were otherwise a bit cumbersome, so we moved back to double sided A4 printouts. In the April edition that year, we informed patients about our Wednesday afternoon closing and why it was important for staff training and doctor’s continuing professional education. Unfortunately, we lost that valuable time due to contract changes.

In the September 2009 issue, Dr Jones appeared on the front page, set to retire after an amazing 37 years of service to the NHS, whilst on the December 2010 issue, we were very sorry to publish a tribute to our other senior partner, Dr Aspinall, who had sadly passed away in September of that year.

We’ll have a look at more back issues next time, but in the meantime, please remember the newsletter is yours, please let us know if there’s anything you’d like to see in it, and feel free to contribute towards it by sending us any articles that might interest others.

Smoking – the Stick

Some facts on how smoking harms the body

Quitting – the Carrot

Some facts on how stopping smoking gives you instant benefits

It really is never too late to quit

Take the step now to make things better for you and your family

If you’re interested in stopping smoking, refer yourself to the Live Life Better Derbyshire service, at livelifebetterderbyshire.org.uk/stop-smoking or ring them up on Freephone 0800 0852299 or 01246 515550 (local rate).


We have invested in a new text messaging service, which will now enable us to quickly send messages to any of our patients with a mobile phone number on their systems. In subsequent months, our staff will validate your number so that we know your number is accurate.

We can provide reminders about your appointment, ask you book with us following a test result, remind you about flu jabs if eligible or warn you if your appointment has had to be cancelled at short notice.

If you wish to take part in this service, please let us have your mobile number - we hope you will find the service useful.

Hospital Appointments

Appointment times in hospitals are lengthening as with everywhere else in the NHS. We are often approached by patients who have rung the hospital, and been told to ‘ring the GP and ask for a letter’ to expedite their appointment. This is in fact incorrect advice.

The hospital should, according to its contract, liaise directly with a patient about their appointment. As GPs, we have no influence upon hospital schedules, especially when the hospital already has all relevant clinical information to guide when an appointment should be. Therefore we cannot write any letters unless there has been a significant deterioration in clinical symptoms that would merit an earlier appointment.

Where to get help for your condition leaflet

Information leaflet on where to get help for your condition. See images marked 'page 6' to 'page 8' at top of page or download as a PDF This is a PDF download.

Picture of UK General Practice leaflet

Information leaflet on the national picture of General Practice in the UK. See images marked 'page 9 and 'page 10 at top of page, download as a PDF This is a PDF download or visit the webpage.

How can I tell if my child is poorly leaflet

Information leaflet for parents and carers on how to tell if their child is poorly and what to do about it. See images marked 'page 11 and 'page 12 at top of page, download as a PDF This is a PDF download or visit the webpage.

The included leaflets are © Dr M Wong 2016-17 and may not be reproduced without permission.