Would you like to become a member of the Patient Participation Group (PPG)?
The PPG are an important line of communication between the surgery and the patients.
The PPG are active in the surgery garden, hold coffee mornings for McMillan Cancer and other charities in the year. They also volunteer to help when needed with Flu/Covid Clinics.
If you would be interested in becoming a member please email:- email@example.com
Minutes from Meeting held 8th January 2024 (DOCX, 16KB)
AGM Patient Participation Group (PPG) 2nd October 2023
Download the AGM document (DOCX, 16KB)
Patient Participation Group Newsletter Summer 23
The Patient Participation Group (PPG) met at Fern House on 12th June. As always members of the Fern team were present to answer queries and give information. We were pleased to hear a presentation from Dr Mayet on the progress with identifying and treating Diabetes.
Key issues included:
- Ongoing discussion on the ability of the NHS/ practice to provide phlebotomist services. This is funded centrally which is why most tests are done on hospital sites. Where patients are vulnerable, or it is clinically appropriate some blood tests are done at Fern House. Very early tests are offered to help those who have work related difficulties attending during the day.
- An explanation of how population health issues such as diabetes are now tackled - see below.
- Preparation for the first AGM of our PPG in the autumn
- Volunteering for projects such as the community garden which is a social prescribing project run by members of the PPG. If you wish to learn more come and chat (in the garden) on Tuesday mornings from 10am. Another voluntary activity is the MacMillan cake sale due on Friday 29th September. Please come along and support us.
- Concerns were expressed regarding the use of the disabled parking by those without blue badges / abuse of the car parking spaces and / dangerous manoeuvres causing damage to property. Please think about how disabled people are affected if all the spaces are taken. Patients in general, parking on the double yellow lines outside the dispensary window. This is dangerous and not acceptable.
- Development of the overarching Primary Care Network (PCN) to which Fern House belongs.
- Can the PCN website be improved? Inform the practice staff.
- Integrated Neighbourhood Teams are developing services across health and social care - we will bring more news about this in future newsletters.
- Invitations for booster Covid injections are a little confusing but generally better to receive many than none.
Population Health and Diabetes
One of the major challenges we face is type 2 diabetes. This is not just about individual cases but the presence of diabetes in increasing numbers in the whole population.
Primary Care networks such as the Witham and Maldon PCN (https://www.withamandmaldonpcn.nhs.uk/)
serving three of the practices in Witham are tasked with looking at health in the wider group of patients registered.
In terms of diabetes there has been a great deal of activity. In the Fern House practice, registered patients (16000+), 6.2% are diabetic and 7.5% are pre diabetic. The NHS spends around 10% of its budget on patients with Diabetes- mostly when such patients develop serious illnesses. Covid was particularly dangerous for Diabetic patients.
The good news is that we can each get more control over Diabetes as lifestyle changes and the quality improvement programmes Fern House offers can make big differences. Examples include:
- Improved systems of doing checks, using text messages to inform and involve patients.
- Offering diet programmes which can reverse the disease process including our low carb programme. A pilot has drastically improved the lives of several patients. The NHS low calorie programme helps target those most in need and medical staff also find that social prescribing supports many who struggle with other conditions linked to poor health. https://lowcarbfreshwell.co.uk
This effort has shown that diabetes care results by the Fern House team has improved hugely, and the PPG was delighted to learn this and congratulated the team.
The advantages of being part of a larger group of practices is that additional staff posts can be supported across all practices. In this way new services not affordable within one practice can be developed. Examples include the social prescribers, care coordinators, community mental health nurse, physiotherapist, and pharmacists.
Demand and appointments
Additional appointments with a wide team of doctors and other clinical staff total 600 hours.
In June 23 Fern House receptionists answered 14,665 calls. 5 receptionists answer calls daily. 245 patients did not attend their appointments at a cost of 41 hours of clinical time. This is a return to pre Covid levels of nonattendance.
Please remember to notify staff if you cannot attend and others can then access that time.
Next meeting 02/10/23 at 4pm will be the first AGM where we hope to find a couple of volunteers to take on roles to assist the chair. If you would like to discuss, please contact the PPG email and the chair will arrange a chat during August or September.
Contact the email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an invitation to the next meeting.
PPG Newsletter – March ’23
We had a good attendance at the recent meeting of the PPG on 6th March and the issues discussed are summarised below. The next meeting and newsletter will be in June.
Invitations will be sent before the meeting. Click here to send an email with questions, thoughts etc.
Did you know: there are several enjoyable ways to improve your health and they are all provided in Witham? Keeping fit and healthy is made easier by sessions run from the Witham Leisure Centre. Sessions include:
‘Finding Your Feet’ walks and the ‘Wellness Cafe’
Walking Cricket starts on Friday 21st April 14.00 - 15.00, running for 10 weeks at Witham Sports Ground. Contact Patrick Ward on 07787294980 or email Patrick.ward@Essexcricket.org. The cricket sessions follow Walking Football sessions held every Friday between 13.00 and 14.00.
There are also a wide range of other activities available at the Leisure Centre.
‘Warm Wednesdays’ at Witham Leisure Centre will continue until 5th April but from April 14th will be called Social Spaces and will be on Fridays. Open 08.45 - 15.45. Free Wi-Fi/ refreshments / showers. 50p swim/gym.
Did you know: about the extra staff recruited to expand health services locally and the additional appointments within our Witham & Maldon Primary Care Network https://www.withamandmaldonpcn.nhs.uk/
The Patient Participation Group
Did you know about: The Fern House Garden project – run by the Patient Group. Come and see us at work on Tuesday mornings (weather permitting). The daffodils in the rear garden adjacent to the car park have been much appreciated and are the work of this group. We have recently planted a new rose garden visible from the car park. All the rose plants were donated by a patient. We have also received gifts of equipment and a cash grant from local organisations. Please join us, gardening skills welcome but not required. If you have health or anxiety problems or lonely you might find this a source of help. Talk to your physician or Carol the Social Prescriber.
Thanks to the Fern House team for responding to our request for new chairs suitable for patients with mobility issues. We also asked for clarification on access to appointments so please see below.
Getting Appointments at Fern House Surgery
Like all NHS services there is a huge demand for GP appointments. Although appointments have increased so has demand. This is common throughout Essex and the country. The Fern House team reports that missed appointments are still occurring so please cancel if you cannot attend and let someone else have the slot. These are the times to access:
- emergency on the day – call at 8am. The new telephone system now enables a call back facility at peak times. For afternoon emergency surgery appointments, call at 11.30am.
- for appointments in 48 hours (2 days later) or routine appointments, call after 10am.
- extended access appointments are released two weeks ahead and clinics are provided from 6.30-8 pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with a GP.
- on Saturdays a clinic is provided at one of the four practices in our primary care network - these can be booked two weeks in advance.
If you are diabetic or have another chronic condition, early morning blood tests are provided so that commuters can get to work afterwards. These are on Tuesday & Thursdays 7-8am only and must be pre-booked.
Dispensary - patients are advised that requests for repeat prescriptions must allow 4 working days. Dispensers deal with an average of 500 prescriptions a day and many face to face and email enquiries. On Mondays this can double, so spare a thought for the dispensary team.
The proposed new Community Diagnostic Centre is to be created at Braintree Community Hospital and will be up and running in 2024. It will provide CT scanner, ultrasound MRI scans and more. It will give access to these tests closer to home. This is a big plus for those of us living in Mid Essex.
If you want to go along to the public meeting about this it will be held on Wednesday 10th May at the George Yard Shopping Centre from 10am - 12.
Discharge is to be made quicker in MSE (Mid and South Essex) using a new pharmacy on wheels service. This will aim to ensure that take home medications are supplied before 3pm. Many of you will have experienced the delays to getting back home whilst waiting for take home medicines. Let the patient group know if you have any updates to share on this.
A new project that works
If you go to Broomfield you might notice QR codes near to products such as soap. If the product has run out you can use your phone to inform staff and it will be renewed. This is the tip of the iceberg of a new App that hospitals can use to speed up responses and save time so that services can be more efficient and benefit patients.
Fern House staff noted the popularity of extended appointments and the limitations of such services as blood testing. This is mostly contracted to hospital departments. A new bus service is likely to provide vital assistance in travelling to Broomfield or Braintree hospitals. The Digigo service is due to be extended to the Witham area. This is in addition to Braintree Community Transport
Mid Essex News
Your representatives can now directly speak to the ‘Alliance Director’ and key members of the team. Chairs of patient groups are automatically invited and can raise issues on behalf of their groups. The first meeting included an update on virtual wards - we have discussed this before. More than 200 virtual beds are now in the scheme. If you or a relative have seen this in action please update us so your feedback can go to MACE. Mid Essex is part of the Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System.
We note the retirement of Dr Hopcroft and wish her well. A new full-time doctor, Dr T. Ahillan will join the Practice Monday 3rd April.
PPG Autumn/Winter Newsletter 2022
So much has changed in the NHS and there is a lot that concerns us all. We believe in supporting our NHS and all those who work within it who strive so hard to get things right for us when we need them. If you want to learn about the changes here are two links to help you find out nationally and in Mid and South Essex:
Welcome to the website of Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust | Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
The Fern Patient participation group formed several years ago but was forced to pause during the pandemic. Now we are reassessing what we might attempt to do by establishing new terms of reference and considering a change so that the when the group meets it becomes aa managing committee and all patients can join in by reading the newsletters and sending in comments for discussion. Please note that we cannot deal with personal complaints.
We are currently reflecting on the volunteer roles some of us undertook in the last year or two and the projects we might do to improve lives.
Dear to our hearts is the garden project designed to enable people to be referred to join a gardening group at Fern House, and address their health, wellbeing, and social issues in a different way. You can be referred to this group by any doctor, nurse, or social prescriber. If you can offer advice or participate in the garden project, please use the patient group email below.
In the past we have raised money for charities by coffee mornings. We recently organised a MacMillan cake sale to raise funds. Over £200 was donated to MacMillan. Thanks to those who contributed.
Difficult times lie ahead which have been well documented in the news.
These, together with staff shortages and heavy pent-up demand for hospital and local services - many provided by GP teams including nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and many more - will put additional pressure on all health services. Extra appointments are coming along, and you may be offered either face to face or telephone consultations at new times to try to bridge the gap between what we would like to happen and what the reality can often be.
At our recent meeting with Fern senior staff, we raised the issues of inadequate seating for patients with mobility problems, medication review calls made outside the times arranged and misuse of disabled car parking spaces.
Positive reactions were noted to the increased appointments on Saturdays and evenings within the PCN
The primary care network (PCN) has recruited new staff for the benefit of Fern House and the three other practices, Witham Health Centre, Blackwater Surgery (Maldon), and Collingwood Road. These include pharmacists, a social prescriber, a mental health nurse, physiotherapist, and health & wellbeing coaches.
Since 1st October 2022 the PCN have started an Enhanced Access service, providing 36.75 hours of Nurse and GP appointments every week. Two mornings a week between 7-8am and two evenings a week between 6.30-8.00pm. Along with every Saturday at one of the four surgeries between 9am-5pm. This is to benefit patients outside of the core hours of the practices. These appointments can benefit working patients to attend, early morning, evenings, or weekends. All these appointments are available to pre book two weeks in advance, allowing you to plan your visits ahead.
If we can generate sufficient interest for the next PPG meeting, we could in the spring, hold a health awareness session and invite new staff to speak to us.
We discussed the NHS App and its many uses. If you do not yet have this on your phone, please consider getting it. You can check blood test results, order medication, and book some appointments
You can now access your health record through the App.
Patients raised the well-known issue of obtaining blood tests at a local site. Currently the only options are hospitals in Chelmsford, Maldon and Braintree. This is fine if patients have transport but very expensive if taxi fares are necessary. The practice manager took note of this but unfortunately, we cannot currently offer this facility.
Don’t forget, if you are eligible, to get that flu/ covid booster jab this winter.
We extend our best wishes to Dr Hopcroft who retires in March
If you would like to receive the newsletter and send in your comments, please use this email address and the chair of the PPG will contact you as soon as possible.
Your area - Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System
Kind donation from Witham Rotary Club to Fern House surgery garden project
June 2022 Newsletter (DOCX, 15KB)
May 2022 Newsletter (DOCX, 15KB)
Winter 2021 / Spring 2022 Newsletter (DOCX, 14KB)