There was much to talk about at luncheon for the Fryern Ladies’ Probus Club and the conversations somehow veered towards ‘The Medical’ as our guest speaker Dr David Whitehead joined us just in time for dessert which was apple and berry crème brulee – delicious but sadly not too good for the ever expanding waistline!
After chatting individually to some of his patients from Glebe Surgery – of which there were many in attendance during the meeting held at The Roundabout Hotel in West Chiltington– he introduced his topic of ‘Changes in the NHS’from when he started his career as a young and enthusiastic general practitioner to the present day.
Everything was so much simpler and he equated his early experiences almost as a Dr Findlay with leisurely days, three square, nourishing meals and plenty of time to devote to the job of looking after people as if they were his own family.
However times change and people are growing older, proved by the fact that Her Majesty the Queen currently issues 18,000 congratulatory telegrams, to her subjects attaining their century or above, but this figure is expected to rise to 350,000 in 2058!
As we elderly ladies know, 80 years is the new 50 and we all expect our own royal telegrams at a later date. David explained that nutrition, advanced medicine, ACE inhibitors and indeed statins can keep us going indefinitely but an elderly population, coupled with the loss of individual care in an extended family can prove to be a strain on our medical reserves to help lonely and fragile individuals.
Family breakdowns are far more common, as is the sanctity of marriage, and mental health issues amongst children are increasing as we live in an unequal hot house society of pressure, selfishness, overcrowding and greed.
Another problem is that the shortage of suitably qualified medical staff is increasing and a large amount of doctors, deterred by European hours, are opting for part time contracts which has its obvious drawbacks re politically controlled administration and budget.
Revalidation – resulting from the scandalous Dr Shipman deaths - where GP licences have to be re – examined every 5 years is an excellent control to protect the public from mispractice but yet again slows the system of care – rather like an OFSTED inspection for schools. The added pressure that GPs run the NHS, whilst seemingly an excellent proposal by the last government, has led to the degradation of some services and has increased patient waiting times as individual health problems are moved from one discipline to another with often unnecessary delays and no overall responsibility being taken – this proves expensive and government budgets are tight.
However we live in a changing world and at present Dr Whitehead is a Clinical Director of the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group which is led by local doctors and health professionals and is now responsible for the health and well-being of nearly 500,000 people.
The CCG is a membership organisation and is made up of just over 50 GP practices in our area covering six localities in West Sussex which are: Adur, Arun, Chanctonbury, Chichester, Regis and Worthing.
Under his strong leadership made up from GPs, hospital consultants and nurses, who are working alongside an experienced local management team, we can feel secure that this combination will produce the best possible care for local people.
As David said: “We share care by working together” – he is certainly a man of his word.
We all found his illustrated talk very encouraging especially as we are all aware of the recent problems faced by The Glebe Surgery when Millstream Surgery closed suddenly two years ago and this resulted in 3,500 patients from Millstream joining the existing 8,000 in Glebe.
An excellent job of re –accommodation began with extra phone lines, increased computer capacity, greater surgery space by way of porta cabins, more staff parking and the employment of more personnel etc.
As David was quoted saying at the time: “We have always prided ourselves in providing traditional family medicine and we hope to continue that approach.”
We look towards the future of The Glebe Surgery with confidence and optimism.
Lee Cosgrove warmly thanked David on behalf of us all and we appreciated his time and his relaxed style and humour.
The ladies were reminded about future trips to Denbie’s Vineyards and Winchester and further reminded that our next Speaker, on November 5, will be Jim Buttress to talk on A Lifetime in Horticulture.
Report by Russ Fry. Picture by Simon Green - General Manager at The Roundabout Hotel