Professor Mike Holmes, of primary care services provider Nimbuscare, says in this week's column for The Press that he hopes patients' long waits for surgery and appointments are beginning to improve - but says there is still some way to go.


"As we approach the third anniversary of lock down there is a sense that the world has moved on. However, it does perhaps allow us to reflect more on our lives and, hopefully, appreciate what being ‘back to normal’ means.

Reflecting on the people I meet in my professional life there is a range of experiences - for some, it means throwing themselves into busy, productive lives with a stronger purpose and embracing daily activity, for others, it has meant slowing down, taking time out and maybe taking early retirement.

As healthcare professionals we’ve seen the impact on people’s health as patients have faced longer waits for appointments, investigations and surgery. I think this is beginning to improve but there remains some way to go.

In all sectors of healthcare we are thinking about how we best engage with the public in order to get their views on how we can improve.

In General Practice we have tried to hold regular Patient Participation Group meetings (PPGs) for many years.

Obviously during the pandemic this became very difficult although to be honest its always been difficult to ensure we get representation for a genuine cross-section of society.

It was refreshing, therefore, to see so many patients attend the recent Poppleton Parish Council meeting in January this year, when I was invited to speak to them about the challenges facing my practice and the impact on our patients.

The interest shown by the 250 plus local people in the room was really encouraging and we had, what felt like a helpful debate of the issues facing both patients and Practices.

We were able to talk about some really difficult issues – and whilst easy solutions don’t always emerge immediately it is clear to me that some of the issues we discussed have improved.

I want to thank the residents of Poppleton for their understanding and I hope the mutual support will continue and evolve.

The desire to communicate with local residents is present at all levels across the City of York in Health and Social Care.

As stakeholders come together to explore collaborative ways of working it is really positive that Healthwatch are part of these conversations – they do fantastic work in this space and will be an important part of the future delivery of services.

There is a real recognition that this needs to be a two way conversation. At present it feels like there are lots of difficult conversations to have although I am optimistic that out of that progress and improvement will emerge.

We are seeing the system pull together to address some of the challenges we face – we are seeing both collaboration and innovation and that feels encouraging and really does bode well for the future."