Practice Update – Patient Information

Aspen Medical Practice notes the recent unfounded assertions in the media that GPs are ‘not doing face to face appointments’ and inaccurate statements about GPs being ‘forced to offer face to face appointments’ on demand. We feel that these reports are part of a dishonest and concerted media campaign to whip up dissatisfaction with NHS services. We invite you to consider the following:

  1.    Aspen Medical Practice has NEVER AT ANY STAGE stopped providing face to face clinical assessment for patients where it is both necessary and safe to do so. This continues to the case, and over the past few months there has been a significant increase in the number of appointments we have provided at the Aspen Centre and Saintbridge Surgery.
  2.    Total contacts between patients and our clinicians are between 30-50% higher than before the covid pandemic. This is a situation common to virtually all GP practices in England, and it is not sustainable. We are typically dealing with over 800 patients per day and 4000 patients per week. This is the equivalent of 1 in 8 people per week.
  3.    As well as dealing with this huge increase in workload, we have also delivered the largest annual flu vaccine campaign ever (10,000 vaccines), and delivered already 30,000 covid vaccinations (mostly on Saturdays) to our patients as part of the largest mass vaccination campaign in human history. This campaign is by no means finished.
  4.    The main reason that people now feel safe enough to expect a ‘return to normal’ is because of the success of this covid vaccination programme. Never the less, we will continue to ensure that out surgery sites remain safe places to work for our staff, and safe for potentially vulnerable people who have been identified as needing care on site. Social distancing will remain in place.
  5.    General Practice was under enormous strain before the COVID pandemic. We were already operating a ‘phone first’ assessment model for the majority of patient contacts, and we will continue to operate in this way to ensure that we can identify and see to patient need as rapidly and efficiently as we can.
  6.    General Practice receives funding based on the number of registered patients, and not on the number of times those patients are seen. We do not have more patients, therefore we are trying to see the same number of people a lot more often. Consequently, we have the same funding to employ the same number of staff. As a result, it will inevitably mean that some people will have to wait longer for non urgent conditions. This isn’t a situation that we are happy about either.
  7.    Please continue to carefully consider how you can access help and advice online, via our website and at your local pharmacy as well. Please also understand that we have no influence over the hospital appointment system.
  8.    We are frankly dismayed and offended the Daily Telegraph claiming ‘victory’ over General Practice with their ignorant campaigning. We weren’t aware that we had become anyone’s ‘enemy’, and it is dispiriting to say the least, coming at a time when morale in the NHS, and General Practice especially, is at its lowest point ever.

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. You are the reason we are able to carry on doing what we do.