Update from the Partners – Face to face appointments

Berkeley Place Surgery has not been closed during the pandemic as the many thousands of you that we have seen and spoken to will be able to attest to. This has been the most demanding period of time in our professional lives, and as demand continues to escalate dramatically we have taken steps to diversity our team to ensure we can continue to provide the high standard of care that you have come to expect from us. We already have a brilliant team of nurses, social prescribers, First Contact physios, and pharmacists. Please don’t be surprised if our reception team suggest an appointment with these professionals rather than a doctor if your symptoms are appropriate. The old days of needing to see a GP to access services are gone. Many of the local NHS services including podiatry, physiotherapy and mental health are all patient facing and you can make contact yourself. Our reception team are doing an amazing job in very difficult circumstances. Please do not take your frustration out on the people who are doing their best to help you.

We have read the articles in the national press about doctors being forced to reinstate face to face appointments with a heavy heart. We have been seeing those patients who need a face to face appointment all the way through the pandemic, in the most covid safe way that we have available to us. We relish the opportunity to get back to normal but have also learned that many patients prefer the convenience of a telephone appointment with the option of a conversion to a face to face visit if it’s needed. Spending 12 hour days doing telephone appointments is no fun for us either, and we plan to gradually introduce some routine pre-bookable face to face appointments over the coming weeks.

We are facing the biggest crisis in the NHS in our lifetimes. The local hospitals are under immense pressure and their waiting times are very long at the moment. Whilst they are doing their best, the job of managing those patients that would normally be seeing a specialist falls to us. This is on top of the work that we normally do, as well as playing our part in the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS that is largely being delivered by local GPs and their teams. There is no magical surplus of staff in Primary Care, and those that us who are still working are doing so under huge pressure. Sadly it is inevitable that some of you may have to wait longer than either of us would like to have your appointment. We don’t like this any more than you do. I write this on a Saturday morning from my desk at the surgery. Weekend working has become a necessity to try to catch up from a working week that routinely surpasses 60 hours for a fulltime GP. Please do your bit by trying to use our service responsibly.

We would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to the vast majority of our patients for their continued kindness, patience and understanding. You can rest assured that we, along with our colleagues in hospital and community services, remain totally committed to providing the highest quality service possible under the circumstances.

Dr Jim Ropner on behalf of all the whole team at Berkeley Place Surgery