Open Letter to Our Patients
This letter is intended to address patient expectations and the demands on the practice. Specifically, prescription queries and the issue of minor ailments and illnesses that may be able to be self-managed in the first instance such as minor eye infections, colds and minor skin conditions.
All we are asking is for patients to consider whether it may be more appropriate to access a Pharmacist or Optician in the first instance.
Please communicate to our reception team the nature of your call so that they are able to help you. If you are unsure, your local pharmacist can provide advice and guidance.
For routine appointments, you may be offered an appointment within the next 10 days. In these circumstances, we would like to ask patients to act reasonably and have realistic expectations of how we are able to help you.
We write to raise very important issues and to ask you to work with us, your GP surgery. All healthcare services are under a lot of pressure, and we would like your support and understanding, to help you and all your family and friends to be able to appropriately access healthcare.
Over the past year, general practice has seen a significant increase in workload, and has been significantly impacted by staff sickness, especially over the winter period. Our staff are working harder than ever to ensure that we can provide a safe and high standard of patient care.
The practice has noted an increased number of contacts from patients at a very early onset of minor viral illness or ailment symptoms. Please remember that many viral illnesses are self-limiting conditions and will resolve by itself within a week or two.
A duty doctor is available Monday to Friday 8am to 6.30pm to deal with any urgent or emergency medical queries. Please be aware that our reception staff have been trained to identify ‘red flag symptoms’. If you can attend work or school, go to the shops, and carry out your day-to-day activities, we strongly advise that patients practice self-care in the first instance, or attend a local pharmacy for advice and guidance.
The practice has also seen a significant increase in patients calling the surgery ask whether their prescription has been issued to the pharmacy, before visiting the pharmacy itself to avoid a wasted journey or difficulties with traffic in the local area. These calls take away a significant resource from our reception services and cause delays for unwell patients contacting the practice.
Please allow 3 working days for your prescription to be processed and visit your pharmacy in the first instance to request an update. If you have any queries regarding your medication or a prescription that has been issued to you, please contact the practice and we will look into this for you. The practice is only able to issue urgent or emergency medication under certain circumstances, for certain conditions. You will be advised by the reception team whether your medication is clinically urgent or an emergency. If this is not an emergency and you have forgotten to request your medication in time, or are going on holiday, you will be advised to submit your request to the practice in the usual process. You can contact your pharmacist for a short supply of medication in the interim period, please speak to your pharmacist for more information.
General practice systems are not configured to send confirmation messages to patients regarding issued prescriptions, although local pharmacies may offer a prescription SMS notification service. Please contact your pharmacy for more details.
We are aware that patients may be waiting for appointments or treatment with secondary care providers. We advise patients to contact the care provider directly for information regarding appointments or waiting lists. We have been receiving a very high number of requests to expedite hospital appointments and/or treatments (such as surgery). If your condition has significantly deteriorated clinically whilst you are awaiting care, your GP may be able to write to the secondary care provider requesting your appointment be expedited. We are unable to write to secondary care providers to request expedite if your condition is clinically stable or just to decrease waiting times.
- Church Street Partnership patient capitation is approximately 16,500.
- Church Street Partnership made available over 80,000 appointments in 2022.
- 37% of all patients were seen on the same day.
- The practice installed a new telephone system in December 2022, during which 15,477 calls were made to the practice in one month.
We have included a data graph from www.bma.org.uk to show the increase in appointments in general practice from 2018 to 2022 (please see below for more details).
What are we asking you, our patients, to do?
Be respectful and kind
Please respect that general practitioners and our staff are working harder than ever to provide healthcare. Being abusive and rude will not get you seen quicker or improve your outcome.
The practice has seen a significant increase in the number of patients seeking support with minor ailments and illness at a very early stage. Please remember that many viral illnesses are self-limiting conditions and will resolve by itself within a week or two.
If you or your child have an eye infection, minor rash, signs of a cold, or other minor symptoms such as athletes foot, verruca’s or warts, do not think GP first. Try home remedies, look for advice from www.nhs.uk or ask for help from a pharmacist or optician. Only seek an appointment if you have serious symptoms or advised to by a pharmacist.
Please be aware that you may be referred to the pharmacy or optician by a member of our reception team if you contact the practice with a minor ailment. The Community Pharmacy Consultation Service, and Minor Eye Care Service were launched in 2022 by West Essex & Herts Integrated Care Board.
Only seek a medical appointment if you have serious symptoms, or have been advised to by a pharmacist.
Please check with your nominated pharmacy whether your prescription is ready 3 working days after submitting your request, and only call the practice if there is a problem.
Minor Ailments that will be referred to a local pharmacy
(Children and adults age over 1 year):
The Minor Injuries Unit at Herts & Essex Hospital can treat:
- Minor impact or sports injuries
- Bites and stings
Keep simple remedies including paracetamol or ibuprofen at home.
Order your repeat medications well in advance and have realistic expectations about the request you are making if you have forgotten to order your medication. The practice does not take telephone requests for medication.
Think about signing up to the NHS App or other App provided through your practice.
Consider changing your pharmacy to one that offers a text reminder service.
Practices are receiving a massive increase in complaints. Each complaint takes staff away from patient care to respond to. Before complaining, think whether it is appropriate. Is it due to an error or mistake which practices should know about to change or improve their services, or is it relating to the significant reduction in the current capacity to provide services by practices or hospitals and therefore no change is possible?
All health services have been significantly affected by the pandemic with huge backlogs. Your GP cannot change this. Do not expect your GP to get an appointment or investigation brought forward unless there has been a significant change in your condition. You can only be moved up the list by making another patient wait longer.
The practice cannot contact hospital outpatients departments on your behalf to book follow up appointments or find out information regarding waiting lists. A member of our team will provide to you the contact details and advise that you contact the department directly.
Be cancer aware
Please respond to invitations for screening such as cervical screening, breast screening or bowel screening.
If you or someone you know have worrying symptoms, then please do not delay but make an appointment as soon as possible. See https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cancer/symptoms/