An Apple a Day

I was born in the early 1940s and some of my earliest memories are of being strongly encouraged to drink orange juice, rose-hip syrup, cod liver oil, and eat Marmite. I was told by my grandmother, whom I lived with, that the Doctor had sent these for me to make me “a big strong girl” Thinking back, I am not sure whether this was true or perhaps a lever for me to take them.

Everyone, at that time was in awe of the Doctor, who seemed to me, when I was a child, to be a rather forbidding old man. He was, however a great friend of the family and ifhe had not seen any of us in the surgery for a long time he would call round to see if anything was wrong. This behaviour was not exclusive to our family but covered other patients in his district.

One incident, I clearly remember, when I was about seven is locking myself in the bathroom, when I had a dose of measles, worried about what horrible medicine I would have to take.Doctor spent valuable time persuading me gently to come out to discuss the problem.

Life has moved on, but in the 1960/70s the Doctors still retained their influence and power.My mother-in-law, who died aged 94 several years ago, would make such a fuss when the Doctor called, best ham and cucumber sandwiches for tea. She would hang onto his every wordand would follow every instruction given rejecting anyone else’s advice. It was even possible, occasionally, on important matters to brief the doctor for urgent requests to be listened to.

There are many difficulties in the Health Services today; inadequate funding, overworked staff, poor facilities, too many patients, including, us, older ones. Advances in technology, have in many instances drastically reduced the personal touch. It is felt by many that the latest system of making, or trying to make, an appointment with your doctor by ringing at 8am on the day required is totally impossible for many people who are ill, elderly or have a disability. The phone is constantly engaged and one may have to try for several days before getting a ten minute appointment. Is it a ploy to reduce patient numbers?
There is, I’m glad to say, a bright light at the end of the tunnel. However well the GPs and other staff performed, in the old days they still held the power. The development and recognition of participation and patient/consumer involvementis graduallychanging the scene. Recent legislation, The Social Care and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014, The “Future Generations” Act 2015, and various Mental Health Legislation support clearly the input of patients/carers/ service-users, the Public to become involved in all aspects of consultation, planning and developing services.

It is intended that these groups will work closely with their local surgeries,with links to the Local Planning Board, supporting the continuing development of good practice, and actively involved with the advising and supporting GPs, and other staff in their every day Surgery life.
Group History
In 2011 the Big Lottery Fund launched a scheme called the Community Voice. Within this project five Patient and Carer Participation (Cluster) Groups, within each of the five areas were developed. Through S.C.V.S ( Swansea Council for Voluntary Service) the LLwchwr Cluster was the first group to be developed through a successful pilot scheme that had it’s first meeting in December 2013. An example of what the group has achieved is counselling provision, through GP referral, for 3-18 years old within our GP surgeries.

The group consists of members from the public, primary care service providers such as GP managers and ABMU Planning Managers.

The overall aim of this group is to provide Patients and Carers within the Llwchwr Network area the opportunity to contribute to the Cluster planning process; receive information from and feed in to the Cluster Network Boar: and discuss local issues relating to primary care and social services.

The main objectives are:-
1. Raise awareness of services that are available locally and how to access them.
2. Share views on the services that are currently received or that would like to be received.
3. Work with service providers (from primary care, Social Services or the Voluntary Sector) to develop and deliver improved services and support.

LlwchwrCluster consists of the following surgeries :
Penybryn Surgery, Alexandra Road, Gorseinon
Gowerton Medical Centre
Tal y Bont, Pontarddulais
Tyr FelinGorseinon
Princess Street Gorseinon
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