HavensHealth GP Surgery, Peacehaven: Responding to local concerns
Healthwatch East Sussex would like to thank everyone who has contacted us about their experience at the HavensHealth GP practice in Peacehaven since we first identified rising public and patient concerns in June 2020.
Since the summer we have received well over 100 Feedback Centre reviews, as well as phone calls and social media messages, mostly identifying significant issues for patients in communicating with the surgery, obtaining appointments and accessing services.
We first raised these concerns with the East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and HavensHealth in August and asked for a clear, detailed and timed plan of action responding to the issues raised by patients to be made public. We are disappointed that following extensive discussions and assurances, this has not been forthcoming in a form we feel adequately addresses the issues raised.
Today, we are calling on the CCG and Havens Health to take comprehensive steps to respond to public concerns by publishing a robust plan of action, which clearly sets out how they are responding to these issues and importantly how progress will be monitored moving forwards.
Healthwatch East Sussex is calling upon HavensHealth and the CCG to urgently issue a public statement with clear and accessible information for patients and the public which provides:
- An apology to everyone who has experienced problems contacting the practice in recent months. We believe that the experience for patients is not what you would expect, and that there have been significant issues for people trying to contact the surgery and get the help and care you need.
- A brief overview of changes implemented by HavensHealth to-date
- A plan of action, setting out other proposed changes with clear timescales, including the benefits they will bring.
- Clear and accessible guidance setting out how patients should contact the surgery, especially those needing access to services or support.
- A commitment to set up a Task and Finish Group in December with Healthwatch and the Peacehaven Patient Participation Group (PPG) to monitor progress in delivering the actions identified and patient feedback.
- A commitment by HavensHealth to be more proactive about seeking, monitoring and responding to feedback from patients for themselves.
We acknowledge that the pressures brought about by merger and the Covid-19 pandemic have added to the challenges faced by the surgery, especially for staff. However, we are aware that these pressures are also experienced by other practices without a sustained sharp rise in negative feedback occurring.
We welcome the CCG’s support for HavensHealth to expand staff and communications capacity through:
- A new digital phone system to improve the management of inbound and outbound calls scheduled to be fully in place by the end of December.
- A reception team at the Rowe Avenue site being reinstated to receive phone calls direct with two new phone lines, in addition to those answering calls at the Anchor Health Centre site – to be in place by end of December.
- Five new receptionists have been recruited with a sixth receptionist on the way.
- Five additional GPs recruited to increase the number of appointments offered.
However, we are concerned that many of the actions identified are for the future, and do not respond to the immediate and significant issues being faced by patients. Consequently, Healthwatch continues to receive messages highlighting concerns from patients about their ability to communicate with the surgery and receive the support they require.
Patients who face problems should seek help if you are concerned about a potential sign or symptom by contacting HavensHealth. If anyone still has difficulties in contacting the practice directly, please call NHS 111 (just dial 111), a free service available 24/7, where your healthcare needs will be assessed to determine the most appropriate support for you. This could include advice over the phone, a home visit from a clinician or a booking for a relevant service. You can also get advice online at https://111.nhs.uk/
This is the first time that Healthwatch East Sussex has been unable to jointly resolve a problem with the CCG concerning urgent action needed on local health services. However, we remain committed to working with the CCG and HavensHealth to support them in understanding and responding to patient concerns going forwards. We have also shared our concerns with Healthwatch England, NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and the Sussex Integrated Care System so that they can offer their support to this process.
Healthwatch East Sussex encourages the residents of Peacehaven to continue sharing your experiences of accessing local GP services with us, both good and bad. We will share this feedback anonymously with the CCG and HavensHealth to help sustain improvements. We also welcome public feedback on any other health or care service in East Sussex.
A spokesperson from NHS East Sussex CCG said:
“We work closely with local GP practices to ensure our local populations have access to general practice services. A key part of our work is listening to, and acting upon, patient feedback about their experiences and we are very sorry to hear that some patients have not had a positive experience from accessing services at HavensHealth.
We have been working closely with the practice to help them address the concerns that have been raised and to ensure improvements are made that will make a positive difference to patients.
The improvements have so far included the introduction of a new phone system, new phone lines to increase the number of people who can call into the practice at any one time, and recruitment for new receptionists. Alongside these immediate tangible improvements, a detailed action plan is in place with clear timescales to put into place larger scale changes to improve the way the practice supports its patients, and we are working with the practice to ensure that this is delivered.
We would like to thank Healthwatch East Sussex for helping to raise patient feedback to inform these changes and we are working with them and the practice to establish a task and finish group to help oversee the improvements that need to be made.
A CCG statement and HavensHealth practice statement will be posted to the East Sussex CCG website here: eastsussexccg.nhs.uk/
How to Contact Healthwatch East Sussex
Leave a review of services you have used on our Feedback Centre
Text: 07860 018613
Call: 0333 101 4007