Practice Update

This is a long post but one we think is important.

Are you open yet? A simple question that has reduced both staff and doctors to tears recently…

Contrary to media reports we have continued to see patients face to face, in a safe way, throughout the epidemic and we continue to see those who we clinically need to.

We have seen a huge surge in demand for services, for many reasons and as lots of patients know we were already working at capacity before Covid. We know how frustrating it can be to have to phone for appointments in the morning, to not be able to see the doctor you wish to…we are all patients at surgeries as well and we are constantly looking for ways to make it better.

We can only work with the resources we have – there is a finite number of patient contacts that can be delivered in a day to ensure that all care is as safe as possible.

All our staff come to work to do the best job that they can, not one member of the team gives less than 100% every day.  To be told to F**k off, that we are lazy that we are hiding, why aren’t you open when the shops are, day after day, has ground the practice team down.

Lots and lots of patients are very grateful and appreciative, but an increasing number think it is ok to be rude to staff both in and out of the surgery.  It has to stop – We will not stand by and see our team be broken when they are all giving everything they have got to deliver the service – To deliver in a time of covid, to deliver 1000s of flu jabs and 1000s of covid boosters as well.  Alongside this we also have staff who have to isolate as well as everyone else. To protect our vulnerable patients we ensure that staff have to isolate if they have household members who are covid positive – it keeps patients safe but does affect our staffing levels.

All staff are giving up weekends and days off to ensure that our practice population get these jabs as soon as it is possible.

We understand it is frustrating to access health care at the moment but it is not the fault of any of us at the surgery – we are trying to make the best of what we have. Please, please do not be rude to staff. This week alone both clinical and reception staff have been reduced to tears by the behaviour of patients and we cannot express how sad that makes us. No one should have to take abuse just doing their job. We know it’s often due to fear or frustration but it is not right to take this out on people doing their job.

Sometimes we will get it wrong, and we will always try to learn from things when we do to ensure we do better going forward.

The reality is we cannot meet the demand that is out there. As a result we have tried to maximise the number of contacts we have by using technology as well as face to face (video consults, telephone consults,  by employing specialist staff who can treat patients (paramedics, mental health nurses, care coordinators, pharmacist, social prescribers, physio’s  alongside our existing nurse practitioners, practice nurses, health care assistants, and doctors.  Some of these are funded by the NHS and some are directly paid for by the GPs who have decided that our patient’s need and deserve these resources.

Due to retirements and burnout many clinicians have left across the country, and recruiting replacements is a real struggle. For example training doctors to be a GP takes 10 years…and the other roles we are employing take years to train also. The NHS is funded at much lower levels than comparable countries. The strain is being felt across the whole health service and we feel for our colleagues in the hospitals too. 90% of patient contact is in primary care and therefore the additional demand heads our way first.

As well as consulting with patients our team have to process 1000s of items of medication each week, answer 100s of phone calls daily, assess all results of tests, send referrals’ and read and record letters to and from secondary care by the 100s, do home visits, follow up patients to ensure they have got to the right person…and we have over 7800 patients to do this for. If you come in to the surgery and it seems quiet it’s because staff are doing all these things as well as consulting in their rooms. We have created different entrances and stagger times to keep the waiting room as safe as possible – so it may look like we aren’t doing anything but we most definitely are. Most days for our doctors start before 8 and end well after 8.

We want to provide an exemplary service to our patients, we know that sometimes we can’t, but we always strive to do the best that we can, as a team, for the patients of Anchor Medical Practice.

Sorry for the long post but we thought it was important that we try to explain how things are at the moment and to say that we are beyond proud and in awe of how all the team at Anchor Medical Practice continues to give their all for the patients here.

Keep safe everyone.

Partners and Practice Manager of AMP