The last 18 months have been a very strange time for everyone, including both patients and our GP practice.
Now that we are hopefully coming through the other side of the pandemic in this country, we find ourselves busier than ever before. More patients want and need our help. Across the country GPs delivered 14.7 million appointments in March 2021. This compares to 12.8 million in March 2020 and 13.6 million in 2019 – so nearly a million more appointments than in the last ‘normal’ year. This comes on top of a lack of investment in GP services over a long period allied to increasing complexity in patient need – not the fault of the patient of course, but important background information.
We are still operating under pandemic conditions which has meant big changes to the way we work. In March 2020 NHS England mandated to all GP practices that all patients should be spoken to on the telephone (or contacted remotely by other means) as the first contact for any request for care. We have had to adapt to social distancing requirements and much stricter infection control protocols. We have developed new systems to help with this. We have adapted the way our telephone appointments work and have offered face to face appointments where appropriate right the way through the pandemic. We have introduced more extensive text messaging and video call capabilities. We consolidated our services in Cotgrave and Bingham to help keep staff and patients safe and well supported, allowing more space for admin and dispensary staff and patients collecting from dispensary at Cropwell Bishop. Cropwell Bishop will be reopening to patients in the near future and we will share more information with you on this when it is confirmed.
To help manage the volume of calls we receive, we have implemented a new telephone system that is helping us to be more flexible and to reduce waiting times for patients, especially during the morning rush.
We ensure that face to face appointments are available for patients where appropriate and offer an increasing range of consultations with highly skilled professionals such as pharmacists and physiotherapists.
Despite the improvements and adaptations we have made, we are still finding it hard to keep up with the needs of our patients. So if things are a little slower than usual, you are asked for a little more information on the phone than you might expect or the member of staff you are talking to seems a little stressed, please bear all this in mind. We are doing, and will continue to do, our absolute best to look after you.