Date published: 20 June 2024

A new online educational campaign continues in North Cumbria that aims to help patients better understand the ways in which primary care and modern general practice work to support them. The fourth week of the campaign explored patient appointments and also provided a thank you message. (This was highlighted across the myhealthncumbria social media accounts).

Many local GP practice experience problems with patients not showing up to pre-booked appointments and not providing staff with an update. These "Did Not Attends" (DNAs) unfortunately result in wasted appointments which could have been taken by other patients. Staff appreciate that on some occasions this might be due to unavoidable circumstances, however, patients are encouraged to let GP practices know as soon as they can, if they are no longer able to attend their appointment.

The second theme focused on a simple thank you message to patients - particularly to those who adapt expectations and frustrations appropriately especially when practices are  incredibly busy, dealing with unexpected staff shortages, or faced other service issues. Staff reassured patients that their support is appreciated as they are working hard to do their best for patients with the resources available.

Staff are sometimes also faced with very inappropriate behaviour unfortunately, but the campaign also reminded this small group of patients that each practice does have a zero tolerance policy. It was also highlighted that surgeries also aim for high standards of patient care so have official feedback procedures for any patients who have any concerns/issues that they wish to highlight. Through these processes issues can be addressed directly, professionally, politely and respectfully.

Patient Access Educational Campaign Background:

  • The Primary Care Services North Cumbria team has been in contact with some of the local Patient Participation Groups (PPGs) and Practice Managers over the last few months to discuss what topics they thought it would be most useful to explore.
  • These 'hot topics' very much helped to set the scene for the subjects which are now being explored across the myhealthncumbria social media accounts. This will run for four weeks across the months of May and June.
  • It aims to encourage patients to think a bit more about wider healthcare roles and help with providing a better understanding and encourage more patience of processes within modern general practice and primary care.

Speaking about the project Paul Day, Communications and Media Project Manger for Primary Care Services North Cumbria said: "A massive thank you goes out to all the patients and staff who were involved at the start of this project for their invaluable input that helped inspire us to shape some new resources and determine what the most important talking points should be.

"This initial research and discussion meant there was a much more co-produced approach to this project and brought up interesting themes across meetings including demand and expectations, the wider scope of teams within primary care, generational differences, online and face to face options, patient behaviours and many other things.

"We hope that this joint campaign across North Cumbria will start conversations and start to change perceptions looking at both sides of the service. We know there is a lot of pressure throughout all health and care systems at the moment, but the hope is that some understanding of the frustrations experienced from both sides will help with expectations and explore new channels."