Covid 19 pandemic – Cuckfield statement April 2021

Thank you for bearing with us during these hugely stressful times for everyone. We have been touched by the many kind messages of support whilst we have strived to provide you with the best service we can.
As many of you may know, General Practice has seen absolutely unprecedented demand over the last 6-12 months and this demand continues to increase. ‘Unprecedented’ has probably been one of the most overused words in the last year, but quite honestly this has been the most challenging period the Practice has ever encountered and we envisage it continuing at this rate until at least the end of year.

In the last 12 months we have instigated numerous initiatives to enable us to cope with providing a GP service during a pandemic, these include a brand new telephone system, employing more reception staff, rolling out eConsult (online consultations), remote working, telephone and video consultations, Hot Hub clinics, Covid vaccination programme and an urgent telephone triage system as stipulated by NHS England (NHSE).

We successfully provided a Covid safe Flu campaign which, at very short notice, was extended to include all over 50 year olds and we are already planning for this year’s campaign along with the Covid vaccination booster programme which has just been announced.

With the easing of lockdown measures taking place, we continue to work under the GP SOP (Standard Operational Procedure) as determined by NHSE, which means we are still providing an urgent on the day triage system and seeing patients for face to face appointments based on clinical need.  In April 2021 alone, we have provided 2,061 telephone consultations, 1,806 face to face consultations, dealt with 3,341 medication issues, processed 1,910 letters and filed 789 test reports.  This is a huge increase on the numbers of patient contacts that we have had in previous years. It is very distressing to all of our staff, when the media reports that GP practices have been closed.  Unfortunately this pandemic has struck at a time where the NHS but particularly General Practice is chronically underfunded, which has put an inordinate strain on the service that can be provided.

The current demand is extraordinarily high and we would encourage patients to use eConsult whenever they can as this helps us prioritise your clinical need and will ensure you receive the appropriate help for your concern.  Please use the self-help advice on our website; a high number of queries to the Practice do not need a GP input and can be resolved with self-care.  There is also NHS111 who are open 24 hours a day, not just for when the Practice is closed.

The current demand means there will be a longer wait for a routine appointment, than we would like, however unfortunately this is inevitable at this time.  Please do not get angry with our receptionists when they offer you an appointment in four or five week’s time for a routine issue.  We are and must prioritise our patients with urgent clinical needs first.  We appreciate that patients are also waiting a very long time for hospital referrals and outpatient appointments.  The delays for these appointments are out of our hands and we would ask that unless there has been a significant change in your symptoms, you do not call the Practice to enquire about the waiting time.  Please contact the hospital booking appointment line on… chase any appointments.

We will be reviewing our COVID safe procedures in line with the lockdown easing Government roadmap.  We thank you for your patience and understanding as to why we have these procedures in place.  We continue to ask patient to wear a mask when they in the surgery and only to attend the surgery if you have a pre-booked appointment.

Thank you once again for your patience and support.