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News

  • Changes to Patchs Telephone Access
    Having successfully pilotted the automated Patchs, we are going to try changing the telephone default to using this system preferentially - at least for a time.
    We have a continuing significant shortage of receptionists and are finding it very hard to recruit suitable new ones. This means, at times, difficulties completing all their other important tasks in an efficient manner.

    All our patient requests go through Patchs in order for us to best understand how to help patients in the most appropriate and speedy way. We look at all Patchs received within a few moments of receiving them and this allows us to respond rapidly to every request.

    75% of patients submit their requests themselves but the remaining 25% are spoken to a receptionist who has to write the Patchs form on behalf of the patient. This takes quite a time and it means keeping the next patients waiting on the phone. At busy times this can mean a queue building up (though our phone waits have come down substantially in the last few months as many have commented and as we can see from our computerised phone monitoring system).

    The receptionists have many other important tasks and we need the team to work efficiently for everyone and would like to free up their time.

    The new Patchs Telephone Assistant asks exactly the same questions as the receptionists ask and speaking the answers to the automated system would be exactly the same as speaking to a receptionist but saves them having to spend time filling in the form - instead it all happens automatically.

    A bonus is that the practices receives not only the transcribed text but also the recorded voice-file. The voice message allows you to say what you want and explain your problem in your own words directly to the doctor or administrator. This is much better than going through someone else's words!

    We think this system may well be a win-win for everyone.
    It will take some getting used to but our pilot has shown it to be effective and straightforward for many patients - we receive 20-40 each day by choice and now we think it is time to try rolling it out to everyone.

    Of course we still need to give patients the choice to request a receptionist if they want and so will make this an option on the phone system. The difference will be that the automated Telephone Assistant will be the default and you have to select the receptionist - the opposite way round from the current situation.

    We shall start this trial on Wednesday March 6th and will be keen to hear your feedback. If it doesn't suit we can always change it back.

    We know of one other surgery - a similar sized big city practice like ours - that has adopted this way of working and that has been well-received. That gives us some confidence, so we shall give it a go and see if it works for us!
  • Waiting for your hospital appointment?
    There is a new NHS website service "My Planned Care"

    This site offers advice and support while waiting for your appointment and more details about the hospital and service to which you have been referred. (click on the image to access it)

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  • We have a new GP Partner: welcome, Dr Ghani
    As Dr Lloyd retires, we are delighted to announce Dr Abdul Ghani has agreed to join the Partnership from October 1st.
    We have a new GP Partner: welcome, Dr Ghani
    As Dr Lloyd retires, we are delighted to announce Dr Abdul Ghani has agreed to join the Partnership from October 1st. Many of you will already have experienced Dr Ghani's care, as he joined the practice as an Associate GP in April. He is a very experienced GP, having been a partner in a practice in Hillingdon for a number of years. He is also a GP trainer and brings this additional role into the practice, having lost one of our trainers, Dr Mehrali (to the health-tech industry) a couple of years ago.
    "I completed my General Practitioner (GP) training at Oxford Deanery and currently hold the positions of GP trainer and Programme Director for the Hillingdon GP vocational training scheme. In addition to my dedication to medical education, I have a special interest in the management of diabetes in primary care and offer soft tissue and joint injections. Beyond my professional commitments, I am an avid football enthusiast and an ardent supporter of Arsenal FC".
    Boosting the partnership is vital for the future health of our practice and this will give us resilience as we face continuous change and pressure in the NHS. It will also help us provide more continuity of care for our patients.

    Dr Ghani 3x2
  • Dr Lloyd has retired
    Willow Tree has lost a major bough: Dr Rhiannon Lloyd has retired after 32 years of incredible service to the people of Kingsbury and the surrounding area.
    Dr Lloyd has retired
    She is a fantastic and hugely experienced doctor and has been a source of great knowledge and wisdom and a wonderful colleague and mentor to all levels of our team. We'll all miss her energy, humour and advice. She has a razor sharp memory and we often refer to her rather than computer! Our surgery will not be the same and it will take time to adjust.Screenshot 2023-09-16 at 10.14.29
    We know many of her patients will feel they have lost a friend as well as a source of great professional support. Many patients have traversed huge events in their lives with her care and others will be grateful for her timely and expert medical intervention.
    If anyone wishes to send a message we'll pass it on to her.
    Meanwhile we wish her all the very best for a long, happy and fulfilling retirement and we'll certainly be keeping in touch.

  • Shortages of medicines
    You may have heard of, or exerienced recent shortages of some common medication

    Shortages of medication have been a recurring and increasing problem in recent months. This may have many causes - manufacturing problems (especially related to the pandemic, including capacity issues), difficulties obtaining raw materials, transport and logistics problems, economic instability, commercial withdrawal by certain companies, drug recalls due to quality issues, stockpiling, price caps and other governmental cost controls, increased or unexpected demand, panic buying, parallel imports and currency fluctuations, possibly Brexit.
    In some situations the problem may become critical for certain medicines and the government then issues a Serious Shortage Protocol (SSP) which means pharmacies are required to limit the amount of medicines issued or substitution with an equivalent item. We have seen both these recently with some HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapies for menopausal symptoms). Here is a guide to those items currently under an SSP
    https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/.../serious-shortage-protocols...
    Many medicines will not be so seriously affected as to need an SSP but there may be difficulties finding sufficient supplies from your pharmacy's regular wholesalers and they may have to hunt around. It may occasionally lead to a slight delay in obtaining your supply or receiving a part order. It may also mean receiving your regular medicines from different manufacturers. Be assured these will be perfectly safe and equally effective (though, rarely, some people may experience minor changes in side effects from a change in excipients (inert added preservatives, fillers, coating or colouring). Please do discuss any concerns with your pharmacist.
    Some patients try to 'shop around' different pharmacies and sometimes have some luck with remaining stock but this can be frustrating as most pharmacists are very good at hunting down supplies.
    Sometimes the pharmacist may have to ask the practice to prescribe an alternative medicine and this will inevitably add more delays and frustration. We are sorry if you experience any problems - we are all trying to to our best in a rather unpredictable and changing environment.
    Worryingly, you may have read about results from The Pharmaceutical Journal’s just published annual pharmacists' satisfaction survey which shows that 54% of UK-based pharmacists said medicines shortages have put some patients at risk in the past six months. If you have concerns please talk to your pharmacist- they are the medication experts and they will contact the prescribing GP if necessary to discuss solutions. Safety is clearly of vital importance and we are all involved to the same ends.
    Here is a Patient Information Leaflet used by pharmacies to give more details (from PCSN

  • Another sad farewell: Dr Nehal Patel
    After 13 happy years, Dr Nehal Patel has left us for a new life in the Antipodes

    After 13 happy years, Dr Nehal Patel has left us. She is taking her family as far away as possible (!) - to New Zealand, where her sister and some of her friends live. She has found a GP practice to work in and has just arrived there to courageously start a new life.
    She has contributed immensely to our practice and her many patients will be especially sad to see her leave; she has given great devotion and skill and we'll miss her greatly as a colleague.
    She said a fond farewell to her regular patients and passes on her good wishes for all the others she has had contact with over the years.
    We'll keep in touch and post any news we receive.

  • A sad goodbye to Dr Mehrali
    We're very sad to announce that Dr Mehrali is leaving us after 12 amazing years
    We're very sad to announce that Dr Mehrali is leaving us after 12 amazing years, during which he has contributed immensely to our practice and to patients' health care and wellbeing. I know many of you will be as heartbroken as we are and may want to send him your own words. Here is a message Dr Mehrali has penned for you:

    Dear Willow Tree Patients

    After 12 wonderful years of the honour of caring for you, your families, friends or neighbours it is time for me to wave goodbye. I am taking up a role for an artificial intelligence company that will allow me to continue to help people at their time of need but from a rather different perspective and at a very different scale.

    I still fondly remember my first day at Willow Tree Family Doctors at the old 301 Kingsbury Road site. It was my first job after completing GP training, something I'd been increasingly drawn to having started off originally specialising in paediatrics. The heaving waiting room, the bustle at the reception desk, the overall sense of activity and purpose struck me and stayed with me.

    Willow Tree has been my focus and source of inspiration for these dozen years that I've been blessed to be part of the team. Both my colleagues and you, the patients, have been central to this process. I've been honoured to share many special memories, life changing moments and plenty of laughs with you all. Thank you for allowing me to play a small part in your lives and your wellness journeys.

    To my colleagues and partners at Willow Tree I owe you a debt of gratitude for believing in me, tolerating my unusual colour combinations and for the opportunity to help Willow Tree flourish. Thank you to each and every one you.

    In my time here I've loved fine-tuning systems and processes to allow the technology at our disposal to work for us. I've really enjoyed introducing new roles and ways of working to our team and mentoring a host of colleagues. I'm particularly proud to have helped the practice achieve training status meaning that junior doctors now rotate through it as part of their path towards becoming fully qualified GPs.

    I will miss the daily interactions that make being a GP, at the heart of a community and in a family-focused practice, the special role that it is. I will cherish the beautiful memories forged by all of you. I'm confident that the unparalleled commitment to patient-centred care coupled with continuity will continue to set Willow Tree Family Doctors apart as a premier example of primary care at its best.

    My last day at Willow Tree will be on Guy Faulkes' day, 5th November. I'll try not to read into the symbolism of this too much...

    All best wishes
    Dr Mehrali
  • eConsult re-procurement
    The eConsult contract ends in March 2022 - what comes next?
    eConsult is our digital front door, allowing you to tell us what your health needs are so we can respond to you in the most effective and timely manner.

    The contract was put in place across NW London to allow GP practices to cope during the pandemic and it has facilitated safe and efficient access for patients to primary healthcare and prevented many practices folding under the strain.

    Now is the time to consider "what next?".

    NW London is embarking on a period of patient and practice engagement to find out what we need to enable digital access to practices to improve. At the end of this period there will be a contract for one or more systems for all NWL London patients and practices for the next two years (at a cost of around £550k - 22p per patient per year).

    There are 27 systems out there we need to evaluate (both patients and practices). A detailed process is being worked up (Dr Selwyn is Brent GP IT Lead and is heavily involved in this).

    We plan to engage with our patients and will hold an online patient meeting soon.

    Please feed back any comments or ideas you have.

    Watch this space!

  • New cervical smear service
    Having trouble booking a cervcial smear to fit your busy life?
    This new service will allow you to book your essential smear test in the evening or at weekends. Please ask to be booked at reception.

  • Changes to how Data is extracted and used
    The way your data is extracted and used will be changing - but JUST DELAYED into 2022!
    In this article, we’ll be discussing your personal data – your medical record -held in our GP computer record system.

    We currently share your personal health data for your own health and social care needs –
    ‘direct care purposes’. This is of course vital when we want to refer you, order an investigation, send a prescription to a pharmacy, liaise with others involved in providing care to you etc. In fact we cannot provide safe care without letting other authorised people involved in your care have this essential information (for instance about important medical conditions, previous operations, allergies, medication, contact details etc). We enter into legally binding Sharing Agreements with organisations involved in your care to ensure good governance.

    We also share some of your personal data for
    Research and Planning purposes and for Public Health (eg in the present pandemic) and there are various legal requirements and safeguards for us to do this. Most of it is used anonymously but it can be made individually identifiable where there is a valid and necessary reason. This is data extraction and use permitted under the Health & Care Act 2012 and we also have to comply with the Data Protection Act 2018, GDPR and a number of other legal frameworks and much guidance.

    We outline in this website (
    Medical Records & Confidentiality section) the data we already provide. It has made major contributions to medical research (by universities, research bodies, pharmaceutical companies etc) and has helped the NHS plan and commission services, map the spread of infectious diseases and so on. In other words, the data is essential for the advancement of medicine and building and administering a better NHS.

    The different mechanisms for extracting this data from our GP record system are now going to be brought into one new system, the GPDPR ‘GP Data for Planning & Research’ and it will operate slightly differently.

    As Data Controllers, we are responsible for protecting your data and have to abide by all the stringent legal and procedural requirements and monitor the processes to ensure compliance. We also have a duty to inform all of our patients how their data will be used and their right to opt out.

    Our
    Privacy Notice explains what personal data we hold and with whom and why we might share these data. It also explains your right to withhold consent from sharing these data for Research and Planning purposes (you cannot withdraw your consent for sharing for Direct Care purposes as we would not be able to safely care for you).

    Under the GPDPR, once the data has been extracted from our system, NHS Digital will become the Data Controller and will be responsible for granting access and for disseminating these data. They assure us the data will never be used for marketing or insurance purposes and will not be sold. An independent body scrutinising proper use of the data, IGARD (Independent Group Advising on the Release of Data), will include representatives from the GP community, BMA etc.
    This video outlines briefly how NHS Digital handles your data. GPDPR is explained more fully in this NHSD link.

    The first extract for data from GP systems will take place on July 1st.

    Your name and address will NOT be collected. The data will be in
    pseudonymised form, meaning that some of the identifiers such as DoB, NHS number and postcodes will be replaced by unique codes which will require special decoding software keys to read them. If there are valid and necessary reasons, the codes may be broken to allow authorised bodies access to trace the data back to individuals.

    The data extracted will be coded information about any medical conditions, symptoms, medication, tests, allergies etc and details of any staff treating you. It will also include your gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

    Many items will NOT be extracted from your record. These include free-text comments and notes (a large part of our medical records), correspondence, documents, photos, unnecessary data over 10 years old, certain legally embargoed information such as gender reassignment and IVF treatment.

    Withdrawing your consent to sharing

    To withdraw your consent for your personal data to be shared for Research and Planning you need to opt out. There are two types of Opt-out.
    • Type 1 Opt-out prevents NHS Digital from extracting and sharing any of your personal information.
    • National Data Opt-out allows NHS Digital to extract your data but prevents them sharing anything that could be linked with you personally.

    For more information on the use of your data and these Opt-outs read the NHS Digital Transparency Notice

    To apply a Type 1 Opt-out you need to complete this form and send it to us. We enter a code into your computer record to activate this. You can do this any time but best before the first extraction on July 1st.

    To apply a National Data Opt-out you need to complete this web-form or downloading and completing this form which is sent back to the NHS Digital (not to the practice). Your decision is recorded on the national system. You can do this any time.

    There are some legal over-rides to your choices, for instance by court order, where there is an over-riding public interest (eg during the Covid-19 pandemic), when any information that could link you to your information is removed and where there are some
    specific exclusions

    Full details on data sharing is in the
    NHS Digital Transparency Notice
  • Self-referral physio available
    Here you can add a short description for your article, something to grab the users attention
    A new physio service is available locally providing a much more rapid response than in the past.
    Hands on therapy isn't always needed and much of the success of physio depends on the patient carrying our regular exercises and making adjustments. The fantastic range of online resources provided - videos, articles and guides - will help and there are also group sessions, one to ones and referrals on to investigations and specialists in the few cases this is needed.
    Here is a leaflet explaining the new service and have a look on our Physiotherapy page for more details and links.
  • e-Consult and the change to 'Digital First'
    The surgery has significantly changed the way it works - no more direct GP appointment booking.....

    From June 1st we changed the way the surgery works.

    From June 2020, we changed the way we offer appointments for our GPs.

    • All requests for GP appointments will be assessed after completing an eConsult form online – there is a link on the home page of our website.(Online booking is switched off so you will no longer be able to simply book an appointment )
    • This will ensure you get the most appropriate help from the most appropriate person: the GP will quickly review your request and may offer you a face to face appointment at the surgery, a telephone or video call, send an SMS message with advice, send a prescription to the pharmacy, maybe order tests or a referral.
    • We shall respond to requests as needed: before the end of the next working day, at the latest (6.30pm) but mostly the same day.
    • Those without internet or who prefer not to complete an eConsult will be assisted in other ways - you can still phone the surgery and a Patient Services Team member will help you.
    • Parents can use eConsult for children from 6m (under 6m will still have to be by phone contact) until 18y.
    • Young people can send their own eConsult from aged 16y (from the 'I want help for my child' selection) .

    Why are we changing?
    This is in line with a ‘Digital First’ strategy for Primary care in the NHS Long Term Plan. We have brought forward these changes due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
    We need to remain flexible and resilient as the lockdown measures ease – there will be a large backlog of work and we’ll need to prioritize. Many people will still be reluctant or unsafe to leave home to come to the surgery so we need to be able to respond appropriately to meet everyone’s needs.
    We also need a system which will allow us to cope with any further waves of Covid.

    How will it affect me?
    We hope the new system aims to provide a better, more responsive service:
    • Having information about your concerns in advance helps us deliver the best help to you quickly and may avoid an unnecessary wait for an appointment and trip to the surgery.
    • Reduce phone-call waiting times and free up capacity for those who require telephone contact.
    • Allow more time for face to face consultations.

    What about routine appointments for my Long Term Condition?
    Medical conditions such as Diabetes, COPD, Hypertension and so on require regular routine checks and we’ll continue to call you up for these in the usual way based around your birthday. We’ll also call you as usual for routine Medication reviews at regular intervals.

    Will I still be able to see a Doctor face to face?
    Yes but perhaps not so often. We shall have precautions in place to ensure it is safe to see a doctor when necessary, and we shall assess the need through eConsult, phone and video calls.
    Traditionally patients came to see the doctor for everything but times are changing and we know much of our care can be delivered more efficiently and this will benefit everyone, for instance by saving you booking an appointment, taking time off work and travelling to the surgery.

    What about nurse appointments, phlebotomy and so on?
    For the time being these will continue to be booked through Patient Access online booking, telephone and some eConsult.

    What about Admin requests?
    All of these should come through eConsult now- whether you need a certificate, letter, form filling etc. Anything really!

    I am worried about this
    It will take some getting used to – by all of us! We shall continually review the situation and adjust it depending on how everyone finds it. Your feedback will be very important, so please do let us know your thoughts and any ideas you have.

    Link to eConsult

    This short video explains what eConsult is and how it works

    When you fill in an eConsult, you may be simply asking for admin help but if medical advice or attention, but you also have available a fantastic array of self-help material; simple problems often do not need a GP.

    What if I can't use the internet? If you are unable to use the internet you can still phone us and our receptionists will ask the same questions as the eConsult to guide the doctors to your best treatment.

    The system is ideal for admin queries too and we hope all requests for certificates, letters and other queries go through this system in order to give the best and swiftest attention to your problem.

    Nurse appointments and blood tests will still be available through Patient but appointments for GPs will remain switched off.

    We've been using eConsult for well over a year and our experience tells us this will give many advantages to patients and the practice. As we move into the gradual lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, we'll need to operate as flexibly and efficiently as possible as the virus will still be around for a long time to come and the situation will remain fluid.

    The best way to integrate eConsult and Patient is to use the new NHS App (no, not the Covid one!). Once you're signed in you'll also be logged in to all NHS services. You can download this from the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android.

  • Kingsbury Vaccine Centre closes after 40,000 vaccinations
    Our local Covid Vaccine centre at Kingsbury Temple (Shree Swaminarayan Mandir) has just closed after 40,000 successful covoid vaccinations
    Your new local Covid Vaccine centre opened on January 28th at Kingsbury Temple (Shree Swaminarayan Mandir) on Kingsbury Rd and closed in June to hand back to the community who need it for sports and events. We must thank them for their enthusiasm and generosity in manning the centre with volunteers and helping on so many fronts.
    Run by our local Harness GP Primary Care Network, of which Willow Tree is a member, we have been vaccinating around 1,000 people a day.
    Here's a BBC News item about it:
    www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000rqv4
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  • Do you have unwanted medical equipment?
    There is a lot of unused medical equipment taking up space in peoples' homes- here's what to do
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  • 'Choose wisely'
    The NHS will no longer be prescribing medicines you can buy

    The NHS in NW London CCGs: Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster spent over £13 million in 2016 on products that can be bought without a prescription at community pharmacies.

    The NHS is under pressure. Our budgets are not large enough to pay for all the treatments the public would like us to provide. We would therefore like to spend less on medicines you can buy without a prescription so as to free up funds for other valuable NHS services.

    So practices across North West London - and across the country- are being asked to stop routinely prescribing medicines which are available to buy over the counter in pharmacies (and, in the case of some medicines, in supermarkets and other shops too). If a medicine you need can be bought without a prescription, your GP may ask if you are willing to buy it. If you are not willing to buy it, it will be prescribed.

    The following groups are exempt: School children, if the product needs to be given at school, Care home residents, Individuals with funded care packages where a carer is required to administer a medicine or product, Anyone officially declared homeless, People with a diagnosis of dementia, People with a diagnosed learning disability.‚Äč

    More details about these medicines

    Here is a list of commonly prescribed medicines which are available without a prescription

  • Keep up to date with BBC Health news
    The BBC Health news pages from a useful digest of current news stories
Disclaimer This website is to inform our patients of our services and provide general educational material concerning health. Any information, opinions, data or images are provided in good faith for the interest and benefit of our patients and not for any commercial gain. We are not offering professional advice concerning the particulars of any individual's health and cannot be responsible for the accuracy of the information presented or the content and reliability of information on linked external sites and request that you make your own judgements and use the information at your own risk. We cannot always keep all the information up to date, though we try our best. If you have any concerns about any of the content on this site, broken links etc please contact us.

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