We continue to ask that patients and visitors only attend the Practice (either site) if they have a confirmed booked appointment. Please do not attend in person to book an appointment. We ask that patients continue to contact the Practice either by telephone, e-mail (do not use to book urgent appointments), SystmOne on-line or by e-Consult if they wish to speak with a GP. The GP or a healthcare professional will triage your call and provide advice either over the telephone, electronically or book you for a face to face appointment. If you have a pre-booked appointment at either site, we ask that you wear a face covering or mask at all times whilst you are in the building.
When you arrive at the Practice
Even though in some areas Covid restrictions are being relaxed, as a GP Practice, we are looking after extremely clinically vulnerable patients and as such the Practice is continuing following Government guidelines and adhering to 2 metre social distancing wherever possible. Therefore, please wait in your car, or outside the Practice until the time of your appointment. This will prevent large groups of people being inside the Practice waiting area at any one time. Upon entering the Practice please adhere to the 2 metre markings that are clearly shown on the floor and the signage on the doors and walls. You will see in the waiting area, that we have measured out 2 metre distances between chairs, and there will be a reduced number of chairs to sit on. We ask that you do not bring anyone with you for your appointment, unless you need assistance, as this will also help reduce the numbers of people in the Practice.
Bringing in samples or documentation
To reduce the number of people in the Practice building at any one time, we now have a table in the lobby area of each Practice (before you enter the main building), with secure boxes, where samples and documentation can be safely left. The Practice staff will be checking the boxes regularly during the day.
A Change to Our Appointment System
The practice is receiving more patient contacts than ever at the moment, and we appreciate that there have been long waits on the telephone lines as well as for appointments. We want to thank you for all your support at this hugely challenging time and have been touched by the many kind messages of support we have received whilst we have strived to provide you with the best service we can.
As many of you know, General Practice has seen an absolutely unprecedented demand over the last 18 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.
In the last 12 to 18 months, we have instigated numerous initiatives to enable us to cope with providing a GP service during a pandemic including telephone and video consultations via a brand-new telephone system, employing more reception staff, rolling out eConsult (online consultations), remote working, Hot Hub clinics, the Covid vaccination programme and an urgent telephone triage system as stipulated by NHS England (NHSE).
Nationally, over the last few months, general practice has provided 1 million more appointments per month compared with 2019 and GP practices delivered 300 million patient contacts in the last year (compared to 23 million in A&E). Our practice has felt this increase, and we have struggled to meet the demand for access to appointments. We have tried to deal with as many enquiries as we could on the same day or within 48 hours and this has led to our whole practice team working exceptionally hard, with some staff members working 150% of their agreed, safe working hours which is equivalent to an 8-day working week! We are sure you would agree this is not sustainable so, to protect the safety of our patients and health of our doctors and supporting staff, we are making a very necessary change to the way in which we book appointments. This change will come into effect on the 1st of October 2021.
We hope to provide a range of appointments accessible to all patients. To ensure that urgent enquiries are dealt with in a timely manner, these will be booked on the day into a morning and afternoon clinic. Your call can be added to the urgent clinics from 8:30am for the morning clinic and 1.30pm for the afternoon clinic. Once each clinic is full you will be asked use alternative methods of GP access such as a video consultation with a GP via LIVI https://www.livi.co.uk/ or eConsult https://cuckfieldmedicalpractice.webgp.com/ or to call back when the next clinic is bookable. Our clinical team will continue to help with emergencies or urgent issues that the doctor on call agrees should be dealt with that day. We will continue to have routine appointments which can be booked as usual but there may be a wait of a few weeks for these.
To try and help our clinical team gauge what needs to be dealt with urgently you will be asked to give a brief summary of the problem to our reception team. You may be offered an appointment with an alternative staff member who is able to deal with your issue and this will often be quicker and more appropriate than a GP appointment. Our additional team members include a physiotherapist, pharmacist, pharmacy technician, advanced nurse practitioner, paramedic practitioner, care coordinator and social prescriber.
In 2019 there was a political promise for 6000 additional GPs by 2024 but, unfortunately, by 2021 the number of GPs has decreased. This has led to a country wide shortage of GPs and given this situation, we have taken steps to expand our clinical team to include the additional health professionals mentioned above. These team members are all hugely experienced and valued and we are confident in their ability to help you with a wide range of problems.
Unfortunately, the Covid 19 pandemic hit at a time when primary care was already under a huge amount of strain, and your patience and understanding during this difficult time has been greatly appreciated.
We recognise the toll that the last 18 months has taken on all of our patients and we recognise how difficult it has been at times to access appointments with us. Rest assured we are all working as hard as we are able to try and provide a service for our patient population, with the resources we have available to us. We have, sadly, had a huge increase in the amount of abusive and aggressive language that is directed towards our staff members. We know this is only from a small minority of patients, but we ask you to respect all of our team members, but especially our reception team who are here to support you in accessing the services that you need. We operate a zero-tolerance policy to abuse towards any of our staff members. The following has been produced by the BMA to help communicate the change in how Practices have been working. Working differently does not mean we are not working.bma-why-are-gps-needing-to-work-differently-poster-sept-2021
We continue to welcome feedback about the service we are providing but please be assured we are working our hardest to meet everyone’s needs.
If you require any medical assistance outside of these hours please contact 111 – online at 111.nhs.uk or in an emergency call 999.
2021 Bank and Public Holidays:
- New Year’s Day: Friday 1 January – closed
- Good Friday: Friday 2 April – closed
- Easter Monday: Monday 5 April – closed
- Early May bank holiday: Monday 3 May – closed
- Spring bank holiday: Monday 31 May – closed
- Summer bank holiday: Monday 30 August – closed
- Christmas Day (substitute): Monday 27 December – closed
- Boxing Day (substitute): Tuesday 28th December – closed
The Practice telephone lines are open 8.30am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
The Practice sites are open to patients with pre-booked face to face appointments between the hours of 8am and 6.30pm