I have recently had a virtual meeting with Councillor Jeremy Pugh to update him on the present position at the surgery and to field some of the concerns that have been raised with him.
‘I acknowledged that the phone lines had been extremely busy throughout the Covid period and this had been frustrating to individuals but we had taken these concerns on board and have been adapting the model where we can. In the early days we added more staff to the phone lines in busier periods and worked with telephone engineers to improve the performance and sustainability of the system culminating in replacement Fibre cabling recently which has certainly helped matters. We have continued to update the public on our current position and actions, although acknowledge as this has been on Facebook and Website it has not been available to all. I was able to explain to Jeremy that I am able to analyse the telephone system and this provides me with a useful information including access to data that shows me how long people have been waiting, this does help us in developing the model. We receive many calls at the surgery that are not for us, such as chasing up a hospital appointment, queries regarding Covid etc. We are encouraging patients to view our Website which will answer a lot of their questions or give contact details without phoning the surgery; we have also made a request that non-urgent phone calls are made after 11.00. We have a long way to go on this but if the public could support this strategy, this should reduce some of the telephone traffic and make the position better for all. I was also able to express my concerns about the increasing levels of abuse that our reception team are currently experiencing when answering the telephone, the staff are adhering to the guidelines that have been provided by the doctors and these have been put in place to manage the booking situation and also identify patients that have an urgent clinical assessment need. We have a zero tolerance policy at the surgery and will be picking up these cases with the individuals concerned’.
I had discussed the opening of the front door with Jeremy and this happened two weeks ago with a stringent plan. Patients and other visitors have been very supportive of the rules that have been put in place and we have been very grateful for this. Our next project is reviewing the appointments system and changes will follow.
As a practice we are extremely proud of our team. It was not possible to serve the public from home so they have been here throughout continuing to provide services to patients and putting aside their concerns for their own safety and that of their family.
We have also continued to see patients face to face throughout the pandemic after an initial telephone consultation. This was in accordance with the government guidelines with the aim to protect vulnerable patients as much as possible by reducing unnecessary contacts and allowing us to screen for Covid symptoms ahead of any practice visit.
We are all looking forward to the easing of measures at the surgery, for some of you this may seem that we are not acting quickly enough but we are intentionally doing this in a controlled way being very mindful of the safety of our patients and our responsibilities to our team.