Fareham GP group Sovereign Healthcare to host drop-in event after criticism from patients

AFTER being labelled ‘shambolic’ by patients, a healthcare group in Fareham is encouraging residents to attend a drop-in event to hear how GPs are ramping up recruitment – and patients can play a part in improving standards.

By Richard Lemmer
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 4:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 11:07 am

Residents will have the chance to share their views with representatives with the healthcare group at a drop-in event at the Holiday Inn, in Cartwright Drive, at 11am on Tuesday.

It comes after Sovereign Healthcare – a trio of surgeries including Whiteley Surgery, the Jubilee Surgery in Titchfield, and the Highlands Practice – launched a raft of improvements after mounting criticism about patients being able to see a GP.

Earlier this year, a Fareham health summit saw residents from across the borough blast the service, with some saying it was nigh-on impossible to secure an in-person doctor’s appointment.

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The partnership includes Highlands GP Practice (pictured), The Whiteley Surgery and Jubilee Surgery, in Titchfield.

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Now the healthcare partnership, which looks after more than 40,000 patients, has undertaken a recruitment drive and has recently set up a new telephone hub to handle incoming calls, with ongoing recruitment into the reception team.

Dr Tom Bertram, said the event was ‘really a chance for our patients to be listened to’, and there will be an opportunity for patients to join focus groups to advise the surgeries.

The Jubilee Surgery GP said: ‘This is an opportunity for patients to contribute to the future as well. We want to hear their ideas – and there are certainly ways that we would like them to get involved.’

The doctor said the healthcare group was focusing on recruiting staff to offer a broad range of expertise – from mental health specialists to pharmacists – but some GP positions have been unfilled for months.

Dr Bertram said: ‘So there is a shortage of GPs across the country. We are broadening the workforce – one of the things we’d like to get out of (the meeting) is to give our patients a much better idea about the range of expertise that we have in the practice.

‘We have had a couple of adverts out for seven months now with no real interest from GPs. We’ve looked at the locum GP workforce, which isn’t our preference.’

Sovereign Healthcare is currently taking part in a pilot with Push Doctor, which provides video call appointments.

Sara Tiller, managing director for south east Hampshire at the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group said it was ‘essential that patients remain at the heart’ of improving services in Fareham.

She said: ‘We have been working closely with Sovereign throughout its merger and supporting with additional ways they can listen to their patients.

‘This event is a great opportunity for people to share their views and suggestions on what the partnership can do to improve, as well as what it is already doing well.’