Practice Newsletter Nov/Dec 2023

Posted by: stephen.reeves - Posted on:

A warm welcome to the latest Upwell Health Centre newsletter. This edition explains some changes at the practice, offers some advice (and a request) for managing minor ailments as well as a maybe another perspective on looking after your well-being.

Helping us to help others.
Our focus here at the surgery is to make sure we see all the patients that need to have a clinician look after them. Given that our daily demand for appointments is beyond what we have the capacity to manage safely it very important that adult patients that have minor ailments which can be managed by themselves try and do so. There are many self-limiting conditions in adults (such as coughs and colds) which could be managed with the right self-care without the need for an appointment.

We recognise that many people when unwell may be uncertain if they need to come to the surgery or not. We understand this and certainly do not want to put people off contacting the surgery if they need help. What we would ask however, is that any adult patient that is normally fit and well go to and search for their symptoms. Read and follow the comprehensive advice which explains what do and when you should speak to a pharmacist or the practice. The advice on the website will be the same advice that a GP would give you if you came into the surgery. If the symptoms lasts longer than the NHS website indicates then please of course call us for further advice.

This will allow us to provide appointments to patients that have more severe needs.

We are also taking steps internally to assist in this aim. You many have noticed that in the last few weeks we have been testing a different approach to managing the phone calls coming into the practice requesting an appointment. Our Patient Journey Team (PJT) are taking more details about your needs and then this information is being passed on to a clinician to assess. That clinician will either contact you to discuss directly or allocate you an appointment with an appropriate clinician. All clinical decisions are made by clinically qualified staff. Our PJT will not make an appointment for you (except in instances where a patient meets specific criteria as defined by the GPs).  The trial will continue through December.

Practice Changes
One of the changes that has happened in the practice recently is the introduction of a new online system for contacting the practice. This system is called PATCHS and allows patients to contact us via our website for non-urgent clinical and administrative matters. Patients do need to sign up to the PATCHS system but this is easy and straightforward (please be assured all information governance assurances and processes are in place and that the supplier is an approved NHS Supplier). We encourage patients to use this system and you can expect a response in a day or so (depending on volume received – but we do our best to respond quickly). Please consider using this service as it helps reduce the telephone wait times for patients that cannot access online services. Online access is very much a national NHS priority and so we will continue to encourage patients to use the service if possible.

We have also improved the way we carry our annual clinical review for certain patients. Patients with one or more chronic diseases (for example, diabetes, COPD, asthma etc.) are regularly reviewed – usually on an annual basis. You will be called by our Long-Term Conditions Coordinator for a review on or around your birthday month each year. Most patients will need 2 appointments – one for a blood test and one for the clinical review. Please do attend these appointments if you have agreed to do so as we do get wasted chronic disease review appointments which is disappointing. These are important reviews and wasted appointments impact the care of other patients. (Please note that some conditions and medications require more frequent reviews and patients will be contacted as necessary in these circumstances.)

I am also pleased to announce that towards the end of January we will have a new Nurse Practitioner working with us. We are also recruiting to roles in our admin and nursing team so do please spread the word and contact us at the surgery should you or anyone you know be interested.

New year, new you?
Whilst people might be living longer generally maybe we should all take a moment and consider how well we want to be able to live our future lives? Will we be able to do the things we want to do?  Or will we be constrained by a chronic illness? Nothing is ever certain of course, but the science says the best way to increase the chances of higher quality later life is by taking action now to improve your lifestyle and well-being. No matter what medication and NHS support you receive in the future, looking after yourself now will almost certainly provide you with a better future life.

The NHS Live Well website ( has excellent practical advice. is also excellent and includes motivational stories and other health living related information and interesting articles.

So, do your future self a favour – take some practical steps now to improve your well-being and lifestyle. It is never too late. To all those that are already taking steps – well done and keep at it, it really will make a difference.

Seasonal thanks and wishes
I would like to thank the team here at the health centre and pharmacy. As always, it’s been a busy and challenging year so thank you to everyone for their relentless hard work and efforts looking after the patients and each other. I would also like to thank the members of the Patient Participation Group for their support and engagement despite some frustrations caused by the practice! And finally, I would like to thank all of you for the lovely feedback and support including constructive criticism which we do take on board. The GP Partners and the team here wish you all a wonderful festive season and new year.

Best wishes
Steve (Manager)