The NHS is currently experiencing some of the most severe pressures in its 70-year history.
GP practices in Gloucestershire and across the country have been facing rising demand for services (nearly 20% – a fifth – since 2019) alongside growing numbers of registered patients. Despite our best efforts, many practices, like ours, are experiencing difficulties recruiting and keeping staff and our teams are feeling great strain.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated workload pressures. Our practice team has been working tirelessly throughout and, like all practices in Gloucestershire, we have been at the forefront of the NHS response, delivering the hugely successful COVID-19 vaccination roll-out whilst maintaining day to day medical care for our patients.
We are all working longer and harder than ever before to provide the very best care we can, under intense pressure.
A GP’s normal day now routinely runs over 12 hours without any meaningful breaks, and this is neither safe for patients nor sustainable for us and our teams. There are members of our highly valued practice team who have reported feeling burnt out, and we are concerned there are others who may feel compelled to leave the profession. This, of course, has a knock-on impact on you, our patients, and we are doing everything we can to alleviate this.
So, we would like to ask for your continued understanding and support as we strive to meet the ongoing challenges we face as we emerge from the pandemic.
Non-urgent appointment times may take longer, but we are doing everything we can to prioritise those with urgent needs and ensure access to care is the best it can be.
We are committed to offering the right kind of care and appointments, based on the nature of your symptoms, condition and needs. To achieve this, we are making improvements which we hope will provide a smoother and more efficient service for all.
In the past 18 months, we have embraced new ways of working and have been offering a greater number of video and telephone consultations where appropriate. We know this has been a positive experience for many of you where it suits your lifestyle and working patterns.
However, please be assured that anyone who needs to be seen in person will be offered a face-to-face appointment – the rate of in-person consultations is now broadly in line with pre-pandemic levels.
Through new ways of working, other highly trained professionals – for example clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health staff and paramedics – are now working within or alongside our practice team, helping to meet people’s individual needs and increasing the number of appointment slots available.
The steps being taken are quite literally aimed at preserving the future of our practice; every member of our team cares passionately about providing the best service they are able to.
Whilst we do fully recognise that waiting for an appointment or a response can be frustrating, please be assured that we are doing everything in our power to help and provide you with the highest standards of care.
If your illness is minor, try to manage your symptoms yourself for a day or two. There is helpful information at www.nhs.uk and your local pharmacy is a great first port of call. If you are ill or injured and unsure what to do, click www.111.nhs.uk or call 111. The 111 phone service can book you into local services if needed.
Finally, we are committed to doing our utmost to support you and give you access to the best quality primary care when needed. Please be kind and treat all surgery staff with the respect they deserve.
The Team at Hadwen Health