A Healthwatch Torbay report on the health and wellbeing of one of the most deprived areas of Torbay has highlighted a key issue in the area with GP appointment systems.
The independent health & social care regulator commissioned the report after the Torbay Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) revealed that people die 8 years younger in the Tormohun Ward area of Torquay – which has over 10,000 residents.
The report – entitled ‘Making Melville Marvellous’ (MMM) – uses data collected from a recent work with the Melville Hill and Warren Road community, which incorporates Abbey Road, St Lukes Road and Waldon Hill, where some of the first houses in Torbay were built in the 1820s.
The consumer champion’s report found that – compared to the Torbay average – the Tormohun area has higher levels of deprivation and health inequalities. Their two GP Surgeries – Abbey Road and Croft Hall Surgery – also have significantly more working age registered patients claiming out of work benefits compared to the Torbay average, a factor that may affect GP appointment systems.
“Although we would expect to see some increased demand for GPs to sign sickness forms (to support incapacity benefits), this is an issue we are seeing trend across Torbay,” said Jill Perry, Healthwatch Torbay Community Engagement Worker.
“The public are telling us that they aren’t happy with the Doctor First GP appointment systems at many different surgeries across the whole of Torbay. It’s an issue we are keeping an eye on and making providers fully aware of. We are talking to GPs about those concerns and they have been very co-operative.”
The MMM report highlights many comments from residents on problems they have faced when booking appointments, stating that the system is “not user friendly and should be revised to make it easier for people to book in advance, around their other commitments”.
Given the higher incidence of poverty and associated health issues, the report also suggests that further work is undertaken with Abbey Road and Croft Hall surgeries, public health and the local community to assess potential new ways of reducing health inequalities and encouraging greater community involvement. Indeed, of the third of people in the area who accessed health services in the last 12 months, just 59% were either satisfied or very satisfied.
Other issues highlighted in the MMM report that affect wellbeing were: residents parking; dog fouling; the need for a children’s play park; more police presence; street cleanliness; tackling rogue landlords and developing community facilities.
“This report shows the vital role Healthwatch will play in the new NHS system,” said MP for Torbay Adrian Sanders.
“What a fantastic, evidence-based report this is from Healthwatch Torbay,” said Tormohun Ward Councillor Darren Cowell.
“I believe this will make great headway in our bid to achieve some focussed activity across the community and partner organisations. We will hopefully be creating a focus task group including Public Health, Torbay Development Agency, Tor2, Constabularies, and key community organisations to discuss and take away actions to implement the report’s recommendations.”
The report can be seen here.