The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
Practice Newsletter August 2021
Welcome to our new Practice Newsletter, we hope you find it helpful to keep you up to date with surgery news.
Welcome to our new website! We hope you will find it easy to find what you need and that you will find some useful information on it - both about our services and about your health and how you can look after yourselves. We will be slowly adding to it over the coming months and we will keep you updated with a monthly newsletter on our ‘Practice News’ page. We would also like your suggestions on what you would want to see on our website or things that we can help you to get the information for. Please visit our ‘Complaints and Suggestions’ page and complete a form to let us know your thoughts and suggestions.
Challenges for Everyone:
This has been a very difficult 18 months for everyone, and the first thing we would like to say is how sorry we are for all of you who have lost loved ones during the COVID-19pandemic, for those who have been sick , for those of you who have lost jobs and income, for those of you who have felt the mental strain of it all. The staff at the practice have had their share of losses and illness too and extend their heart felt thoughts to you. You may have noticed that some key members of our team are not able to work at present and are sorely missed.
During the last 18 months we have had to work very differently- and we know many of you have found this hard- so have we! The necessity for it is clear though- in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic when Italy was having a surge in cases it was recognised that the Primary Care Surgeries and healthcare centres were a major cause of spreading the virus, and in theUK it was decided that steps must be taken to stop this from happening. A waiting room like ours would be an obvious way in which the virus could spread, hence the move to talking to patients on the telephone first and only bringing patients into the building who need to be seen. We hope that in 2022 we will go back to a more traditional way of working- but keeping some of the flexibility of phone consultations that suit some situations. Time will tell!
We know that getting an appointment has been very difficult and still is but we are working hard to improve this. The reasons for this include, the fact that due to the increased pressures on the hospitals, the surgery has had to take on a lot of extra work that would normally be done by the hospitals, on top of this we have had to run the COVID-19 vaccination clinics, we do a daily virtual ward round for high risk patients with Coronavirus and we run a weekly clinic for patients with Long COVID-19 symptoms. Also, many of our patients we are seeing are sicker because they have not been able to go to the hospital clinic so they take longer to treat. Interestingly we usually see a slow down in demand over the Summer months when many patients travel abroad but due to international and national restrictions, this has not been happening this year!
What are we doing about it?
To boost our clinical workforce, we are trying lots of different things, including:
- We are currently recruiting 2 new Doctors. 1 will start in October and we are hoping another will join us very soon thereafter.
- We try to engage locum Doctor’s but unfortunately locums Doctors are in short supply at present and we have not been able to get as many locum Doctors as we would normally do over the summer months. We are hoping this will get better after the summer holidays.
- We have employed a new pharmacy team who will use their skills and expertise to work with you to review your medications. The will be working with the Doctors to make sure you are on the right dosage and medication so they will be doing most of your medication reviews. This will free up Doctor and Nursing time so you can get appointments with them a little easier.
- From September we are changing our appointment system once again to ensure we have more same day appointments as this is the greater demand at the moment. This will mean that we have fewer appointments for the Doctors and Nurses to follow up your problems, so the wait for follow ups will be a little longer than it was previously. We appreciate your understanding of this while we see if this works for everyone.
What can you do to help?
If you feel unwell, do use the website page ‘Health Advice’ and click on the links to see whether there is anything you can do for yourself to help with the symptoms that you are feeling. If you have minor symptoms consider whether you should see a Pharmacy First colleague. This is a service provided by fully trained pharmacists who can advise on minor ailments such as coughs, colds, sore throat, earache etc. All local pharmacies run this service and have private rooms for you to talk to a Pharmacist if you need to. If you have more serious symptoms please do contact us in the usual way.
You may have a problem that does not need an appointment with a clinician, such as a query about a report or about a hospital appointment these can be dealt with by our secretarial team or administration team.
- For the secretaries, call between 08.00am and 4:00pm and press option 2
- For medical reports, call between 8.00am and 3.00pm and press option 3
Our staff have had to work harder than ever over the last 18 months, often working very long weekdays and weekends to provide a service and to keep on top of the demanding workload. We know that some patients have taken their frustrations out on our frontline reception staff and we would like to ask for you not to do this. The lack of appointments is not their fault, this is a national problem which all GP surgeries are facing. This is sadly related to a very underfunded NHS now under strain because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Shouting and swearing at the staff causes undue stress and illness for the staff and does not help you in any way. Please try to put yourself in their shoes as we are trying to put ourselves in your shoes. We do understand your frustrations as our staff are also patients too and face the same frustrations with their own surgeries as you do with ours. We will try hard to listen to your constructive comments and make improvements as far as we are able to but abuse and aggression will not be tolerated and we will use our zero tolerance policy as we need to.
In the next newsletter we will explain some of the other ways we are trying to improve our services.
Thoughts and Prayers:
On a final note we would like to extend our heartfelt sympathies to all patients who are suffering due to the worry concerning friends and family in Afghanistan. There are no words to express how sorry we are for all you are going through and our prayers and thoughts are with you.