Lane End surgery has gone through quite a few changes recently, and not all of them have been well received by their patients. So what happened when the practice partners held a public meeting to address these issues?
Dr. Penny MacDonald is one of the practice partners. She started the meeting with a short introduction and explained some of the issues at the practice:
- Patients are going to see GPs more than they were 10 years ago.
- Specialist treatments that used to be in hospitals are now in practices, which has increased GP workload.
- Recruiting staff
- Medical students are more likely to choose to work in a hospital that a GP practice.
- Being part of the admin team is also very stressful, and many people don’t stay in the job for long.
- The ageing population: many of them have multiple conditions which means they need more care, and that care is more complex.
She said that all practices across the country are facing difficulties like this. Lane End looked into supporting the admin staff by reducing some of the workload. People were calling in 500-800 times a day, and the staff said that without the calls they would be able to get lots of other vital work done. So, they redirected the calls to a central hub, rather than the practice itself.
Did this work?
Unfortunately, this change was less that perfect for the patients. They experienced extremely long wait times (sometimes over 2 hours) to talk to a receptionist. After this, there were no appointments left. Also, some patients felt the staff were rude when they asked why they needed an appointment. We were told that staff often refused to book appointments for them. People have left feedback with us and said things like:
On the phone yesterday for around 30 mins, was sixth in the queue for the whole period, in the end I gave up. How long does it take to offer an appointment.
Phone service is appalling your not a GP so they shouldn’t ask what the problem is…and if you don’t tell them they tell you they are fully booked.
After the feedback the practice received, the phone calls have now been moved back to Lane End, and Penny personally apologised to the room for the bad service. She emphasised that using their website would be a better way of getting in touch and booking appointments.
She also added that when receptionists ask why you need an appointment, it’s not because they want to know your private medical history.
We have had people come in for full consultations just to sign a form. We now have a full multidisciplinary team so that appointments that don’t require a GP can be seen by a colleague.
She explained that they’re now working with community paramedics, prescribing pharmacists, and musculoskeletal specialists. This way, patients can see a specialist on their first visit without being referred by a GP.
Questions from the Public
How are you going to cope with the increasing population in lane end? Especially considering plans to build a new care home in the area.
Practices get paid per patient registered, so more patients means more funding which can be used to hire more staff and grow the practice. Keeping on top of the workforce will be the biggest challenge. As for the new care home, there will be plans for a doctor to visit the care home once a week. By doing that proactive work they will get called out for less visits over time.
Why can’t I see my own GP it would be better to meet someone who knows my problems?
There are fewer GPs to go around. This makes continuity of care increasingly difficult. There are plans to make sure that doctors keep patient notes detailed and up to date so that colleagues can be well informed for appointments. Hopefully there will be continuity with other staff like the community paramedics.
If I’m prepared to wait longer to see a specific doctor, will that be okay?
We book up to 2 weeks ahead, as people often forget appointments or miss them. At Lane End, you can go on their site to ask doctor a question, and they’ll get back to you with a response with 24 hours.
Have you seen any changes at the Lane End practice recently? Let us know by leaving feedback in the comments section.