An important statement from the Surgery
Despite media reports, we never stopped seeing patients face to face during the COVID pandemic. We assess patients at the Surgery based on clinical need. We have increased our capacity to assess patients by using telephone assessments and video calls.
We have always followed the best advice based on evidence to protect our population from infection and stop the spread of the virus in our community, but also continue to maintain access to our GPs, nurses, pharmacists and healthcare assistants, and to deliver the COVID vaccinations that thankfully appear to have brought our country back from the brink of disaster - in fact, current demand is higher than ever and we are consulting with more patients than ever. Comparing Feb with April 2021, our incoming call volumes rose by 70 %. From 10,000 to 17,000.
The recent statement by NHS England (as reported by the media) is an unfortunate error on their part - not for the first time in these difficult circumstances, they have totally misunderstood the situation in general practice and misjudged their response. For the sake of patient safety and the ongoing provision of adequate medical care, it is simply not possible to grant every patient a face to face appointment at this stage of the pandemic, while maintaining a safe service. We will, therefore, continue to operate a ‘telephone first’ system, with face to face appointments being given to those patients who are assessed as needing to be seen in person by a GP.
Of course, we very much hope to gradually see more patients in surgery as a first point of contact if the situation continues to improve but, right now, we have no option but to speak to patients on the telephone first so we can decide how best to treat each individual patient.
Those who need to see a doctor will be able to, as has been the case throughout. Fortunately, many cases can be safely and efficiently managed without coming to the Surgery - this is the only way we can currently meet the unprecedented demand with the finite resources we have available.
Patients with urgent medical problems or who are not reassured by our current service should go directly to the nearest emergency department, Crawley walk-in centre, or call 111 or 999.
We wish to remind everyone that we have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to violence and aggression. On Friday 14th May, there was an incident in Horsham whereby a member of staff was threatened with a knife. This sad incident demonstrates just how much damage can be caused by the mixture of misjudged communications by NHS England, hostile media reporting, and unrealistic patient expectations. We acknowledge that the vast majority of our patients have continued to be respectful and understanding towards us. But we are, however, noticing an increase in hostility towards our staff over the past month, which is unacceptable and serious incidents (including swearing at staff and verbal threats / intimidation) will result in a removal from our list.
We very much appreciate your ongoing support and understanding.
Published: May 16, 2021