Dominic Raab and Steve Bax visit Sunbury Group Practice

On Friday 4th March, Dominic Raab, [Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State] and Cllr Steve Bax, [Deputy Cabinet Minister to the Leader, Elmbridge Council] came to meet Dr Charlotte Canniff, [Clinical Chair, Surrey Heartlands CCG] Richard Fryer, [Business Manager, Sunbury Health Centre] and Nikki Mallinder, [Director of Primary Care, Surrey Heartlands CCG] at Sunbury Health Centre Group Practice.

The meeting, requested by Mr Raab, was to better understand the real difficulties faced by practices and Surrey residents regarding access to primary care services.

This meeting, welcomed by all, was a positive step in showcasing the amazing amount of work ongoing to meet demand, as well as the challenges faced within Primary Care across Surrey Heartlands.

Focusing on activity numbers from across Surrey Heartlands, discussion around the challenges being faced with regards to estates planning (the amount of space practices have vs. what would be ideal for the practice population) and workforce e.g. the reduction in available GP’s for recruitment amongst wider workforce gaps and challenges.

Mr Raab was understanding of the challenges placed upon General Practice, not only during the pandemic, but as the nation transitions into a place of “new normal”, and came away with a better understanding of why access to primary care services has changed and continues to be a challenge to improve.

Dr Canniff, as Clinical Chair for Surrey Heartlands CCG, also recently attended the Surrey Adult Health Select Committee to present the findings of the first phase of citizen engagement plans on the new “normal” for primary care access.

The early findings are clear that despite offering over 6 million appointments this year (21/22) in primary care across Surrey Heartlands, there remains a significant mismatch in demand, to the available capacity. And patients; especially from some vulnerable communities, are particularly struggling to navigate the new ways of accessing care at the right time from the right professionals.

Work will continue, engaging wider patients voice, vulnerable communities and staff working in primary care to improve.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Raab and Mr Bax for taking their time to meet to discuss these matters.