MESSAGE FROM THE PARTNERS AT BEACON MEDICAL GROUP
We want to thank all of our patients for being so understanding over this last week. As a group of local GPs we are dedicated to providing the best service we can to our communities. The staff here are doing their best and are under considerable pressure. Your tolerance is appreciated.
There are some questions coming through:
Why can’t I get an appointment to see my GP?
We have been struggling with a series of unexpected but serious illnesses among our GPs with the equivalent of 2 1/2 full time GPs now away from work for 3 months. Along with maternity leave there are more than 500 appointments per week that we need to reschedule.
What are you doing to offer appointments?
During the week of 22nd July, even with sickness we offered 5,486 appointments. There were 167 no shows.
We are working hard behind the scenes to find locum cover wherever possible and are re-assessing the rota each week to ensure that all urgent queries are dealt with by our urgent care team on the same day.
Nationally and across Plymouth, GP recruitment problems have been regularly highlighted and Beacon has been able to continue to recruit new clinicians. In the next 2 months we have 2 new GPs starting with us as well as extra clinicians in the urgent care team.
Through Improved Access we have been able to offer 200 more appointments to patients every week with access to appointments through to 8pm Monday to Friday and weekend access on Saturday and Sunday has given us extra spaces. With the demand at the moment, even these appointments are full.
Plus we are trying to keep getting across the message about no shows. At such a critical time for us it is important to make sure that every available minute of GP time is used therefore if you need to cancel please use the automated service (option 2) on the normal telephone line.
For the longer term we are working with Devon commissioners to identify ways of solving the workload issue so that patients can get fast access to help.
What can I do to help?
To cancel appointments please use the automated system to let us know so that we can quickly offer your appointment to someone who needs to see a GP.
Patients with requests for fit notes (previously known as sick notes) are being directed to use our econsult service on our website www.beaconmedicalgroup.nhs.uk This will normally get a response in a couple of days and can be found on our home page.
The econsult service provides helpful and immediate advice and guidance for patients on any topic and is vetted by medical professionals. This often eliminates the need to speak to a GP or other clinician. A better understanding of a short term illness and how to treat yourself and your family at time of illness can make all the difference. Your community pharmacist is also a highly trained clinician available to offer advice 7 days a week.
Most importantly, please bear with us over the next few weeks and with those answering the phones, we feel your frustration and are working hard to improve access.
Claire Oatway, on behalf of all of the Beacon Medical Group Partners