Ulster Unionist Health spokesperson Roy Beggs has expressed his support for increased Health Checks provided by GPs in the management of health conditions to improve local primary treatment and lessen pressures on our A&E’s.
Speaking in a debate at Stormont, the East Antrim MLA said:
“In October, November and December 2012 not a single target set by the Health Minister in regard to A&E waiting times, was achieved by the consultant led A&E’s.
It is clear that something needs to change. I challenged the Minister to explain why there has been a further 4% reduction to 71% of A&E patients being seen within 4hrs in Northern Ireland whilst almost every major A&E units in England, Scotland and Wales meet the 95% target.
Clearly there is a need for improvements to our A&E facilities and hospital support services. There are too many patients arriving at our hospital emergency units with preventable illnesses or illnesses that could be better managed in the community and casualty visits avoided. Preventative health care and earlier detection of disease and illness must have a greater priority. With greater health education and early intervention, ill health can be reduced.
We need proactive Primary health care with a greater role. Regular monitoring by our GP practices and greater use of the skills of community pharmacists can bring improvement. We need greater innovation and outreach to the community such as evening clinics at times that suits clients and using markets to access the hard to reach rural population.
Should we examine everyone annually rather than examining everyone regularly over a longer period and prioritising increased monitoring and management of the treatment of the significant at risk groups such as Diabetes, Chest and Respiratory conditions? In an ideal world we would do both.
I would however highlight that GPs themselves need not conduct the Health Checks. Basic checks could, as in England, be delegated to a practice nurse, or even specialist nurses with GP’s being drawn in when required.
I support the increased Health checks provided by GPs alongside the greater role of GPs in the management of health conditions to improve local primary treatment and lessen pressures on our A&E’s. A regular annual check-up is something which we must strive towards.”