The 'massive challenge' in Sheffield's healthcare system

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Dear readers — welcome to our Monday briefing, as the city picks itself up from last night’s Euros disappointment.

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This week’s weather

Sheffield’s press past

Our weekend read about the history of newspapers in Sheffield got a great response (to read that story on our website, click here). The story shows how dramatically the newsrooms of The Star and The Telegraph have shrunk in the past two decades — from having large teams of writers, editors and photographers to sharing content and operating on a skeleton staff.

The story shows why a new model for local journalism is so desperately needed — one that is led by subscriptions rather than online ads, and one that returns to the old-principles of reporting: speaking to people, going to cover stories in person, proper editing and checking facts.

If you believe in those things and want to see them grow in Sheffield again, please join us as a member today.

The big story: Primary care under pressure

Top line: Primary care in Sheffield is under severe strain as doctors in the city struggle to cope with the fallout from the pandemic.

Context: The British Medical Association says the NHS is currently experiencing some of the most severe pressures in its 70-year history. They said:

GP surgeries across the country are experiencing significant and growing strain with rising demand, practices struggling to recruit staff, and patients having to wait longer for appointments.

What’s it like in Sheffield? Figures on primary care aren’t published routinely like they are with hospitals, so it can be difficult to get a clear picture of what’s going on. But anecdotal evidence suggests that the problems are mounting in Sheffield.

  • Earlier this month, Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh wrote about Norfolk Park Medical Practice which is currently closed because there aren’t enough GPs to run it.

  • Last week, Park and Arbourthorne Councillor Jack Scott was granted an emergency debate on the situation in his ward at Sheffield City Council.

Not just primary care: The Tribune reported in April on the mounting backlog of routine operations in Sheffield. Plus, Yorkshire Ambulance Service have also reportedly seen a 37% increase in the most serious category one calls.

Analysis: Dr Andrew Lee, reader in public health at the University of Sheffield, said GPs were struggling to catch up with a large workload of patients whose care has been delayed or deferred by the pandemic restrictions. On top of this they are also having to roll out the bulk of the huge Covid vaccination programme as well as responding to Covid-19 illness — all adding to what was a heavy workload pre-pandemic. He told The Tribune:

One effect of our successful Covid vaccination programme is that Covid-19 illness is becoming less severe — so paradoxically we may see fewer in hospital but a lot more seeking help in general practice. Coupled with the rising cases we are seeing nationally, there will be a lot more work for GPs.

Dr Lee says these problems have been compounded by an already overstretched workforce. He told us difficulties accessing care were neither the fault of the overworked staff or of patients overusing the service. The problems were down to simply not having enough GP capacity for the volume of need.

  • To make matters worse, these problems tend to be more pronounced in poorer areas where there are relatively fewer GPs.

  • These areas tend to have more ill health which translates into higher workloads for GPs — exacerbating recruitment problems.

Hope on the horizon? NHS initiatives such as the primary care additional roles scheme will see extra professionals like physiotherapists, paramedics and pharmacists added to primary care teams. But these will take time to recruit for and implement. Meanwhile, the pressure on our local surgeries grows.

Accolade for city cocktail bar

Many of us have missed pubs and bars over the last 18 months, and one of Sheffield’s most exclusive has just won another award. Public on Surrey Street in the city centre — which was once the public toilets in the basement of the Town Hall — has been named one of the top 50 cocktail bars in the UK.

As well as being known for their mixing skills, they hit the headlines when they offered Newsnight presenter and Sheffielder Emily Maitlis free cocktails for life after her scathing monologue about former government adviser Dominic Cummings on the BBC2 show last year.

Covid-19 update

Rules: Last week the government announced its intention to remove all the remaining Covid restrictions on July 19. This will be confirmed later today, depending on a ‘review of data’.

Cases: Sheffield’s case rate, the number of positive cases per 100,000 population over seven days, is now 320.8. This is up by 46.4% or 595 cases on last week’s rate, the highest it has been since last November. The England case rate is 301.5.

Hospitals: There are now 27 people in Sheffield’s hospitals being treated for Covid-19, a rise of 15 from last week. Five of these patients are on ventilation, a rise of four on last week. However, there have been no deaths linked to the virus in Sheffield over the last seven days.

Vaccines: 642,190 vaccine doses have now been given out in Sheffield, including 371,659 first doses and 270,531 second doses. Three in every four people in Sheffield have now had one dose, as have more than 50% of those in the 18-24 age group.

The history of Sheffield markets

The proposed regeneration of Castle Market has been in the spotlight recently. But unless your roots in Sheffield stretch back many decades you probably won’t remember what it replaced. Norfolk Market Hall (pictured below) stood on Haymarket from 1851 to 1959.

It was demolished to make way for Castle Market, which opened in the early 1960s, which was itself demolished in 2015 when the traders moved to The Moor. Some features on the above painting still exist today, however, including the Norfolk Arms pub in the bottom left of the image.

There is a fascinating and comprehensive history of 700 years of markets in Sheffield on the Sheffield City Council website. Trading in the city stretches back to 1296, when a charter was granted by Edward I to Thomas de Furnival, Lord of the Manor of Sheffield.

Our favourite reads

  1. An astonishing read in The Guardian reveals that the Cathedral and Kelham district of Sheffield is the area with the lowest vaccine takeup in England. The piece interviews the city’s director of public health Greg Fell who warns people against thinking Covid has gone away.

  2. A good update in Now Then about the latest on the future of the soon to be vacated John Lewis building. Sheffield City Council say they hope to reveal their plans for the building by the end of the year. The piece also features comments from Sheffield academic Tom Hunt.

  3. Another good installment of Star business editor David Walsh’s restorations series focuses on Wentworth Woodhouse. The Rotherham country house — which has an amazing 365 rooms — is the subject of a major community funded renovation project which has cost £15m so far. 

  4. Sorry if it’s too soon after last night’s events but it’s worth reading this lovely piece about England defender Kyle Walker. Walker grew up in the Lansdowne estate in Sharrow, one of the city’s most diverse and deprived areas, which was said to be ‘buzzing’ ahead of the final.

  5. Sheffield is well known as a brewing Mecca, and there is an increasing amount of good writing about the beer scene here as well. The Mashtun and Meow blog is run by two managers at Abbeydale Brewery, which also recently got a really nice write up in Pellice magazine.

Park Hill nearing completion

The second phase of the decades-long multi-million pound renovation of Sheffield’s iconic Park Hill flats is almost ready. Workmen have been on site since January 2019, with the first flats expected to be completed late this summer.

There has been some discussion over whether the bright colours used in the first phase of the renovation were in keeping with the architects’ original vision. As the above photo shows, phase two keeps more of the original pale brickwork features, while the colour scheme is more muted. This archive picture shows work at a similar stage when Park Hill was first built. You can even see workmen on the scaffolding if you look closely enough.

Things to do

Sculpture: Today marks the day the Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail begins. 60 large bears and 100 smaller bears have been placed around the city and will stay in place until October 18. All proceeds will go to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and a map of all the locations can be found on the website.

Learn: If you enjoyed our piece about the new John Hoyland exhibition at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield Museums are this week holding a Facebook Live talk about his work. The talk will be hosted by curators Wiz Patterson Kelly and Sam Cornish on Wednesday, July 14 at 1pm.

Event: Sheffield’s annual Migration Matters features dance, film, music, spoken word, theatre, talks and workshops across venues including Theatre Deli on Eyre Street in the city centre and Portland Works on Randall Street in Highfield. The festival began on Friday and runs until Saturday, 19 July.

Walk: Sheffield is spoilt for choice when it comes to walks, but not many of these are city based. Designed by Sheffield Libraries, the Home of Football walking tour app guides you round the city’s historic footballing spots including East Bank Road, where the world’s oldest football club Sheffield FC first played.

Photography: Sheffield’s annual ‘photomarathon’ event has had to be scaled back this year. But in place of the usual, single day event a month-long competition throughout July will take place with participants encouraged to take photos on the route of the Sheffield Round Walk. The four themes this year are reflection, peace and quiet, bliss and come to life.

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