We’d like to reach out to our patients about the complaints we’ve been receiving recently.
The Covid pandemic has been probably the single hardest situation we as a practice and the NHS as a whole has had to deal with in decades. We have had to deal with the pandemic while doing our best to deal with other people’s health problems, which we know haven’t gone away. We have had no increase in our own resources to do this. We’ve had staff members become very unwell, and in one case die, from Covid. We have never closed, although we’ve not allowed patients free access to the surgery for infection control purposes. It’s sad to see newspaper reports claiming GPs are doing nothing, when actually we’ve never been busier.
We are obviously as excited as everyone else to hear announcements that lockdown is easing, and that, in the UK at least, we are winning the battle with Covid. But this brings its own problems. We know a lot of patients have put their health needs on hold while we put so much time and effort into Covid. A lot of you are now calling us to address these needs, but our capacity to speak to you has not increased and there are only so many appointments we can offer. We are going to consider what we can do about this. We understand that patients want a return to direct booking of face to face appointments. We will do this, but we have to get the balance right. We know the phone system is outdated. We have taken advice from patients directly on this and a new system is going to be installed soon which we are confident will make it better. We are listening but changes take time.
We know a lot of you are frustrated. We have health needs too. We encounter the same problems when we seek help from our own GPs. This is a system-wide problem. But the staff on reception are only human. Getting angry outbursts daily from frustrated patients is sapping their morale. Please be considerate, even if you have been waiting on the phone for a while or are not getting the outcome you were hoping for. And finally, we will respond proportionately to patients who are particularly unpleasant or directly threatening to us, be that in person, on the phone, or via written word. We repeat we know you are frustrated. Please give us a chance to improve.
Thank you for your understanding.