UPDATE FROM THE PRACTICE
One of the big talking points in connection with the surgery at the moment is obviously the difficulty patients are experiencing getting through on the phone. We appreciate how frustrating it is to wait in a queue or worse continually get the engaged signal. Contrary to what some have said we do not have a new telephone system. The problem is the sheer number of patients trying to get through. We are seeing an unprecedented demand for services which is reflected nationally as people have delayed contacting their doctor during the pandemic. We already have 10 incoming lines and dedicated outgoing lines as obviously the doctors are doing a high level of telephone triage at the moment. We cannot increase the number of lines without recruiting additional staff to answer them and we are already experiencing difficulty in recruiting receptionists to replace those who have left. We are obviously looking to increase staff and at other options to address this problem. We have increased staffing in our admin team to deal with the volume of emails we are receiving.
In line with the increase in workload our Dispensary team are also receiving a lot of enquiries and patients are reporting difficulty getting through to them. We have decided to increase the opening hours of Dispensary and the hours between which they will answer the telephone to 8am – 6.30pm. Unfortunately we cannot do this until we have recruited additional staff. We will let you know when we have been able to institute this change.
Online appointment booking
We do not offer online appointment booking at the moment. We have never offered nurse appointments online. The reason for this is that the length of nurse appointments differs depending on the type of treatment and not all nurses do all treatment options. We stopped offering doctor appointments online at the start of the pandemic as did all surgeries as we were advised by NHS England to triage by video call or telephone. We have kept this system as we believe it offers the safest option for our patients and staff. We are a large and busy surgery. We already have patients coming in for nurse appointments, blood tests, midwife appointments, ENT appointments. It would be impossible to observe social distancing within the surgery and the waiting rooms if we opened up all the doctor appointments as they were before the pandemic. We will review this following the Government’s decision on whether the restrictions will end on 19th July. Notwithstanding that our doctors still ask patients to come in to see them following triage if they feel it is necessary. Yesterday 40 patients were invited in for a face to face consultation with a doctor.
When you call and speak to a receptionist they will ask you briefly what the problem is. They don’t do this because they think they are clinically trained or because they are nosy or all the other jibes directed at them. They do it because the doctors tell them to do it. This is so that the doctors can have an idea of the urgency of the call and can plan their workload accordingly. It also gives an idea of whether the patient needs an urgent call from the duty doctor that day or can wait until their usual doctor is next available. Speaking to your own doctor obviously provides better continuity of care.
Our doctors are currently dealing with an unsustainable demand for their services. It is common now for, particularly our duty doctors, to work 13 hour days. Our staff, have been amazing throughout the pandemic but are exhausted and still trying to give their best sometimes, sadly, in the face of hostility and abuse. Everyone has already gone above and beyond to assist our successful vaccination programme with thousands of patients vaccinated.
We hope the above explains some of the difficulties we are facing and addresses some of the myths. Once again we apologise for the difficulty you are facing in getting through to the surgery and for any inconvenience caused by the way it is necessary for us to work at the moment. We have been proud of the fact that we have always been highly regarded by the vast majority of our patients and we look forward to your support and understanding at this difficult time.
The surgery is open as usual but we will be operating a telephone triage system. We are facing high demand so the telephone lines may be busy. Please do not come to the surgery unless you have been invited by a doctor or nurse.
Please use the online tools at NHS 119 for all coronavirus related enquiries.
Please wear a mask when attending the surgery
Patients coming to the surgery for a to face-to-face appointment for any of our services must wear a face covering
Due to high demand Dispensary are asking for a minimum of 72 hours to process prescriptions. Following CCG guidance we are not able to issue more than one month's worth of medication at this time.
Dispensary is now open from 9am-1pm and 2pm-6pm. You may have to queue as we are only allowing one person at a time to enter the building. As the notices will inform you please stand well away from the top step in order to allow the person before you to exit.
Please allow 5 days from the date of any tests before calling for the results. As our phone lines are particularly busy in the early mornings please only call after 2pm for results.
PHONING THE SURGERY
We would also appreciate it if you could avoid the busiest time for the phone lines (between 8am - 10am) if you are calling for a routine appointment or other routine matters.
Information about the data the practice holds about you.
As you may know, new data protection regulations come into effect from 25th May. If you would like to read our fair processing and privacy notice it is available here ........
Free Course for Patients to Understand Type 1 Diabetes
In partnership with MyWay Digital Health, we’re hosting a Massive Online Open Course on ‘Understanding Type 1 diabetes’ on 17 and 18 June 2021. The two-day course offers educational materials, videos, live discussions and a supportive shared learning experience for anyone living with Type 1 diabetes and those that care for them, including friends, family and healthcare professionals.
Do we have your up to date contact details? Have you changed your phone number but not got round to telling us yet? It's really important that we have the correct details for you in case we need to reach you about things like test results or to inform you if we need to reschedule your appointment at short notice due to unexpected staff sickness. You can change your contact details using the form at the foot of the page. We are now sending text reminders - if you wish to receive these please make sure we have your mobile number.
Do you have any particular communication needs? For example do you or someone you care for have impaired sight and therefore need us to write to you in large print. Please make reception aware of your preferences so that we can make a note in your medical record and comply with your request.
We welcome feedback from our patients. Please contact Sue Howe, our Practice Manager, if you have any comments to make about our services.
Half day closures
The Practice will close on the following afternoons from 1.00 p.m. These closures are set by West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (WKCCG) and are to ensure that Primary Health Care Teams are getting the essential training and development needed to ensure delivery of the best possible service to patients.
When the surgery is closed there will be an On Call service running during these events and these dates will also be displayed in the surgery premises and on the surgery door. If you have an urgent need for medical attention please call 111. In an emergency continue to call 999. Please remember to collect your repeat prescriptions outsides of these times.
Patient's wishing to transfer to another doctor - please complete the form here - and bring it in to the surgery
Your Practice is registered with the Care Quality Commission - for more information you can visit cqc.org.uk or view our report here:
(Site updated 18/06/2021)