Studholme Medical Centre has been open throughout the pandemic, offering telephone and online appointments, with GPs happy to see patients face to face if deemed necessary. Many people are misled by the media reports that General Practice is closed or that GPs do not wish to see patients when this is not true.
There is clearly a Media and Ministerial agenda to undermine General Practice and to turn public opinion against General Practice. By pushing the agenda for General Practice to fail it provides the opportunity to privatise GP Practices so they are run as a large impersonal organisation by large corporate health care companies.
GP workload is continuous and often our staff stay late into the evening and weekends to process the amount of information coming into the Practice. We receive over 700 hospital letters every day (including weekends/bank holidays) that need to be read and processed, we deal with over 2300 prescriptions each week, hundreds of patient telephone calls and over 1300 patient online requests each week.
Additionally we deal with over 1000 pathological/blood results that all have to be reviewed in detail and acted upon. This is on top of providing over 1000 patient appointments and approximately 300 referrals each week all within a very tight financial budget and limited resources.
The demand is growing exponentially – the average person now sees a GP 7 times/yr versus 3 times/yr 20 yrs ago. However the GP workforce is shrinking as many GPs are leaving due to the never ending high work load. This is not helped by societal view that if in doubt that you need to go and ask your GP ie all roads and responsibility seem to lead to the GP Practice.
GP Practices are often much more accessible than the hospital and hence people contact us regarding referrals and hospital appointment etc, over which we have no access or control but they expect us to follow up. Few patients are aware that once a GP makes a referral that our responsibility then stops and it is down to the hospital to follow up with the patient.
All other areas of the NHS have a capacity limit. When A&E is busy it operates a Red Alert system however there is no capacity limit within General Practice. Patients expect that General Practice can deal with them when they expect to be dealt with rather than according to clinical need. That situation is no longer sustainable and General Practice has to have a capacity limit in order to operate safely.
We now have a notice on our website to inform patients when we have reached our capacity limit. Other options the patients can use will be listed on our website.
Our clinical team by nature want to help and support patients and that is what they love about the profession. The quantity of work, public expectations and the continued negativity and untrue media coverage are now harming General Practice and undermining the corner stone of the NHS.
GP Practices are being bashed from all sides and if that continues we are worried that more doctors will leave the profession and local GP Practices will close.
That would be such a loss to the NHS. Dear Patients you can do your part by getting behind your General Practice to give them your support. Being angry or demanding with our staff does not help us to help you.