We have confidence in new care system

Dr Swapan Mukherjee and practice manager Maxine Jones (purple top) with the care team leading the pilot healthcare project at Muiredge Surgery, Merlin Court, Buckhaven
Dr Swapan Mukherjee and practice manager Maxine Jones (purple top) with the care team leading the pilot healthcare project at Muiredge Surgery, Merlin Court, Buckhaven
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I KNOW this will work.

These were the confident words of Dr Swapan Mukherjee on Thursday, as Levenmouth learned more about a quest to revitalise primary health care.

Over 150 people attended a community meeting in Buckhaven to hear about a new six-month pilot scheme, a first for Fife, recently launched at one of Muiredge Surgery’s practices.

It aims to overhaul a notoriously inadequate appointment system and make it easier for people to access proper medical care when needed – as well as relieving pressure on staff.

Its methods are borrowed from a hugely successful model in Alaska, where patients are classed as ‘custmer owners’ and their health care provided by an integrated team, including GPs, nurses and admisnitration staff, with access to other medical professionals.

Cases are managed by building relationships between patients/customers and health care providers, with patients making their own choices over health and wellbeing.

A panel of around 1400 registered Muiredge patients has been diverted to the project, led by Dr Mukherjee’s surgery.

Bosses also hoped that, by effecting removing them from the equation, appointments would be easier for patients not in the scheme.

The Scottish Government had provided around £40,000 for back-up nursing staff and, if savings could be shown – in terms of cutting down on journeys and better use of doctors’ time – it could be rolled out to other surgeries.

After the meeting, people volunteer to offer feedback on the scheme and spread the word about it.

Dr Mukherjee, a local GP for around 25 years, told the audience he was wholly dedicated to the project and he could understand anxiety at stepping into the unknown – but things simply had to change.

He said despite efforts to improve, the most common complaint was ‘There are no appointments. I can’t get to see you’.

He added: “You are frustrated because you can’t see us when you want. We are frustrated because you can’t see us when you want.

”In between us are the administration staff – the ‘buffers’. It’s become ‘you’ and ‘we’, and it should not be like that.”

Audience members asked a range of questions, focusing on long-term aims, the effects on those not part of the venture, impacts on the bond between doctor and patient, and more.

Many commended Dr Mukherjee and his colleagues for confronting the issue, while staff assured visitors they believed it was the correct way forward.