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Medical Centre Update

by Dr Mark Howcutt – 14th May 2023
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We continue to face severe challenges in the practice, in General Practice, and in the NHS as a whole.

Demand continues to be very high as we continue to recover from COVID, deal with backlogs and have added pressures due to long waiting lists in the hospitals.

We are still working very hard to deal with as many patients as possible and, when we can, are trying to use the additional staff the NHS has provided such as Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Social Prescribers, and Health and Wellbeing Coaches.

New nurses

We were very sad that our three long-established Practice Nurses retired over the last five months. Jenny, Bev and Chris were dedicated and caring nurses who had a huge range of experience and expertise between them. We wish them all a long and healthy retirement.

With the current state of recruitment in the NHS, we have struggled to replace them but are delighted to be now joined by Aleksandra and Rebekha. Please welcome them and be patient as they train and get used to the ways we work. Teresa will also be joining the team as a health care assistant as John has moved to a new role in the NHS.

New GP contract

Like the rest of the NHS, General Practice is really struggling. Rather than working with GPs to improve the situation for patients and practice teams, the Government has decided to impose a new contract on GPs in England. This forces us to make changes to how we use our time and our staff.

Sadly, despite media reports, there are no new resources with this contract so staff will be under additional pressure, not less. The main focus of these changes has been on "access" – making it easier for patients to contact the practice. This is welcome but does not ultimately help patients if we do not have more doctors or nurses to meet people's needs.

New system for contacting the practice

If you need an appointment with one of our nursing team, such as for an NHS vaccination, cervical smear, dressing of a wound, chronic disease management clinic or a blood test requested by your GP, please contact the practice by phone in the usual way.

If you have a problem and you think you need to consult with a GP, a pharmacist, a physiotherapist or another of our attached staff, we are introducing a new online form from Tuesday 16th May which you can complete from a computer or a mobile phone. We will be using the AccuRx system which we have used successfully for some time to send text messages to patients. We chose this system as it is very simple to use with just a few questions for you to explain your problem without the need to go through a long list of online questions. We will ask all patients to complete this form themselves if they can. By completing the form yourself, you will free up time in our receptionist team so that they can help people who cannot do the form and they can also support other patients quicker.

All the requests for appointments will then be assessed in the practice to determine the best member of the team to help and how quickly an appointment might be needed. This form can also be used for administrative queries such as requests for sick notes, letters, questions about referrals, or requesting copies of test results.

There will be links to the online form on the practice website, our Facebook page, shared with our Patient Participation Group and will be sent directly to patients where we have a mobile phone number.

We will continue to try to deal with all urgent requests on the day but once we are fully booked, you may be directed to another service.

We will offer booked telephone appointments for routine issues in the future up to six weeks. If you need to be seen, have further tests or treatment, these will be arranged during the phone call. If these appointments are fully booked and we are unable to offer an appointment, we will start a waiting list for appointments and let you know when we can offer one.

New phone system

We will also be getting a new telephone system on Monday 22nd May. This was ordered before the recent Government announcements. It will allow more flexibility with new features including the ability for patients to opt for a "call back" when they reach the top of a queue, rather than having to stay on hold.

There will also be no limit on the call queue so you should never hear an engaged tone when calling in. We have been told there will not be any disruption on the day but please bear with us if there are problems. Our phone number is not changing.

There is a lot of change happening and a good deal of it beyond our control. Please bear with us as we try to manage this. We will continue to do our best for our patients with the resources we have. Sadly, we recognise we will not be able to provide all our patients with everything they want and need.

We will monitor closely these changes and work with our Patient Participation Group (PPG) to make changes as we can. Please feedback to the PPG who will help collate responses for us.

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