Call for patience as demand intensifies

November 24 2021
Call for patience as demand intensifies

THERE have been calls for patience and understanding as the GP practices in Wells and elsewhere try to cope with “unprecedented demand” for their services.

With staff under huge pressure, Dr Jeremy Imms, Associate Clinical Director at NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, has urged patients to “be patient and remember to treat everyone with kindness and compassion”.

In October, Wells City Practice reimplemented the intercom system, preventing patients from walking straight in, saying the measure was: “Due to an increase in aggression from patients, and the need to keep our staff and patients safe.”

In an incident since then, a man was arrested, and is due to appear in court, after a window in the entry door was smashed. A police spokesperson said: “A 55-year-old man has been charged with causing criminal damage relating to an incident in which a window within a door at Priory Road Medical Centre in Wells was smashed on November 1. Raymond Lee, of no fixed address, is due to appear at Yeovil Magistrates’ Court on December 1.”

Dr Imms said GPs and primary care services in Somerset and across the UK have been under significant pressure over the past few years.

He said: “While they continue to work hard to support the health and care needs of their communities and provide essential services to local people, they have also supported and continue to support the Covid-19 mass vaccination programme, which is done in addition to their day-to-day work.

“Since May 2021 our GPs and practices have faced an increased and unprecedented demand for appointments, prescriptions and tests. Despite this increase, around 68 per cent of patients in Somerset now have an appointment within eight days and more than half of patients are being seen face-to-face, which is important to both the patient and the doctor. While we all understand the importance of face-to-face appointments, it is also recognised that many of our patients value the convenience of online or phone consultations, which in some cases allows our practices to be more accessible to the communities they serve.

“Calls to practices have always been triaged, which helps them to understand who needs to be seen in person, who would be better supported more quickly by a phone or video consultation and which healthcare professional would be best-placed to provide support. Our practices are made up of more than just doctors with a range of professionals working together to provide a wide range of services, including advance nurse practitioners, mental health workers and pharmacists to name a few.

“In Wells, the Wells City Practice has worked hard to support their patients and local community to get the right care for their needs. Between July and September, they answered 16,000 calls, made over 4,000 face-to-face appointments, and over 2,000 telephone appointments were handled. Like all GP practices, they deal with an ever-growing list of healthcare needs; requiring support from a wide variety of healthcare professionals who make up the team.

“We recognise that at times patients may feel frustrated and our staff are working incredibly hard to support everyone to ensure they get the care they need. While we cannot comment on individual cases, we have supported and will continue to support practices like Wells to ensure staff are safe and supported when incidents occur. This may include security assessments, supporting with additional measures to help keep staff safe and the practice open and ensure that the health and wellbeing of staff and patients remains a priority.

“It is important to highlight that primary care colleagues, NHS staff and everyone working in patient care should not be subjected to abuse or aggression, simply for doing their job. We are working hard to support our patients and we hope that the people of Somerset will continue to work with us, be patient and remember to treat everyone with kindness and compassion.”

Figures reveal scale of demand

WELLS City Practice has released figures to show how busy it has been. In the three-month period from July to September 2021, there were 16,000 calls handled by Reception, 108 home visits (housebound patients), 2,404 urgent / on the day contacts, 2,089 routine telephone appointments, 435 medication reviews, 131 medical certificates issued, 4,278 routine face-to-face appointments, 5,315 patients received prescription medicine, and 486 patient referrals.

Practice to close for an afternoon

WELLS City Practice has an important message for patients regarding an afternoon closure in December.

The practice says: “On Monday, December 6, Wells City Practice will be closed from 1pm to 5.30pm for essential staff training. If you need to see a GP urgently on that afternoon please telephone the practice as normal and you will be given the option to be put through to the emergency line. We will then arrange for a GP to call you back. If the emergency GP feels that you need to be seen that day we will have limited appointments available, after 5.30pm, for them to book into. We are sorry if this causes any inconvenience but please bear with us whilst we ensure that you can continue to be seen safely.”

Christmas and New Year GP access

THE team at Wells Health Centre would like to wish all their patients a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.

With Christmas Day falling on a Saturday this year, they would like to remind their patients that the surgery will be closed on:

• Monday, December 27, 2021

• Tuesday, December 28, 2021

• Monday, January 3, 2022

During the rest of the festive season the surgery will be open as usual (8am-6.30pm Monday to Friday). After 6.30pm and before 8am, Monday to Friday, at weekends and on public holidays, out of hours cover is provided via the NHS 111 service. NHS 111 will be able to advise what local service can help.

Further information can be found at www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/urgent-and-emergency-care-services/when-to-use-111

People who require urgent medical assistance that they feel is an emergency should call 999.