GP SURGERY APPOINTMENTS
We are aware of the recent press campaign that has suggested that surgeries have been closed during the last 12 months. To the contrary, during this period, the number of patient contacts we have had at our sites in Briercliffe, Bramley, Middleton and Cottingley increased by over 20%.
It is true that we have actively encouraged patients to use our econsultation service and telephone appointments. However, given the global pandemic has cost the lives of over 126k people in the UK and over 3.35 million people worldwide (and increasing daily), our reasons should be understandable and seen in this light. Our approach, therefore, has been twofold:
1. Keeping patients safe and reducing unnecessary exposure;
2. Ensuring that face to face appointments are available for patients who genuinely need one following a clinical assessment by a suitably qualified clinician;
3. Ensuring that everyone who needs access to primary health care has access, even if it is not their preferred method of access;
The NHS has released guidance (website link below) stating that from Monday 17th May 2021 general practice should make a 'clear offer of appointments in person' alongside video, online and telephone consultations.
We can assure patients that we have always made 'a clear offer of appointments in person' where this has been clinically indicated. 'Clinicially indicated' means that the patient has been assessed and that there has been a clinical need to consult with the patient face-to-face (for example, where an examination, test or sample is required). Our method of assessment during this last year has been through telephone and econsultations where this has been appropriate, recognising that there are a small cohort of patients where such methods are unsuitable.
As restrictions lift, we will continue to ask patients to consider using our telephone and econsultatation service in the first instance because this helps us ensure that face to face appointments are available to those who need them the most and also because we are facing unprecedented demand resulting from the impact of the pandemic in the last year as well as the normal clinical demand that would be expected in this current year.
This does not mean that patients cannot request a face to face appointment. However, face to face appointments are not a limitless supply and whilst we will do our best to meet all our patients needs we will continue to advise patients to use the most appropriate service.
It is also important to know that general practice appointments do not just refer to appointments with a GP. They refer to appointments with all our clinical staff for a wide range of reasons: a new medical problem, blood tests, cervical screening, dressings, chronic disease reviews such as Asthma and COPD, immunisations, and NHS health check for example. The nationally reported reduction in face to face appointments to 50% during the last year relates to *all* appointment types and reasons and so is highly misleading in its inference.
Finally, whilst all of the above is true in relation to our GP Surgeries, we do recognise that we are not perfect and that during the last year we have faced difficulties, staff shortages at times, and have not always got things rights. During the next 2 months, we will begin actively engaging with our patient population via our Patient Reference Groups so that we can get feedback from our patients in order to improve our services. If you are interested in joining one of our Patient Reference Groups please get in touch using our contact form attached.
To all our patients who have sent in expressions of appreciation for the hard efforts of our staff at all our stites, we are very grateful. Our staff at Briercliffe are continually being called to support the local Covid vaccination service which is continuing to cause shortages at Briercliffe Surgery, and our Leeds site is now a national Covid vaccination service, which also has its challenges. We are doing our best and appreciate that it is not always perfect, but we look forward to working with you during the coming year as we address the many challenges we are all facing.
Thank you for your patience.
Mr Methven Forbes
Briercliffe | Bramley | Cottingley | Middleton