Thank you to all our patients who took the time to complete our patient consultation.
A number of key themes emerged from your feedback.
These themes and our responses to them are below:
I am happy with the service as it is. Why do we need to change?
We appreciate that any change to what we are used to and value is always a concern. Both Practices' Partners have thought long and hard about the merger including the option of ‘doing nothing’ but on balance believe that the demands on primary care are such that we will be in a better position to ensure the stability, resilience and development of the service for the future as a larger team. Primary Care is embarking upon a new era of ‘Neighbourhood’ based care and we want to be in a good position to help steer services for the benefit of our patients and with greater scale we will have more resources available to focus on strategy and the future.
I don’t want to be transferred to a new doctor or nurse
You won’t be! All the current doctors and nurses will remain as part of the merger and will be offering the same number of appointments each week. So you will still be able to see your preferred clinician, but will have more to choose from should you need an urgent appointment.
Will it be harder to get an appointment?
As a result of the merger as there will be no change to the overall number of appointments available in relation to the total number of patients registered. Therefore we do not expect lead times to increase or access to be detrimentally affected and hope to achieve an acceptable balance of urgent appointments and the ability for patients to see their preferred GP for continuity of care.
We acknowledge that with ageing population there will be continue to be an increasing demand for appointments (in particular with a doctor) and we are involved in a number of initiatives trying to address this requirement. We are providing appointments at the surgery with First Contact Practitioners (Physios), Self-Help and Wellbeing co-ordinators, and Mental Health professionals and are also linked into our ‘neighbourhood’ service through which we can offer weekend appointments at Bredbury or Marple.
It’s early days yet, but we hope that by offering access to a wider range of services and healthcare professionals our patients will benefit from being able to see the professional most appropriate to their problem and this will also ease the pressure on our GPs and improve access to GP appointments for patients too. We hope our greater size will enable better implementation of such initiatives to improve overall access to appointments and reduce lead times for our patients.
I like the personal service I receive at the moment and don’t want to lose this.
Neither do we. It is clear from the responses that we have had that you value the personal relationships that you have built up with the doctors and the staff. This is one of the reasons for seeking to merge now to try and preserve autonomy in the way that we can deliver your care to you. The good news is that the merger will be an addition of all the doctors and staff you see now. Our plan is to change as little as possible (unless appropriate to improve!) so you should still be able to see who you prefer, but also have the option of seeing another healthcare professional if you wish. The little touches like collecting you personally from the waiting room will not change and as we go forward we would like to have a more active patient participation group to help steer how we do things.
It can be difficult to get through on the telephone. Won’t merging just make this worse
Telephone answering is the most frequently mentioned area in which patients tell us we need to improve. It is very frustrating because we are currently hampered by a system that doesn't allow any flexibility or provide facilities that are now standard in many other businesses and public services. The good news is that plans are now in place to procure a new system, purpose built for GP Practices. This will give us the flexibility to identify and respond to surges in call volumes (e.g. at the beginning of the day), call queuing and options to direct callers based on their enquiry (e.g. test results, prescription enquiries). We hope that this new system will be in place later this year and look forward to being able to offer you significant improvements to this important aspect of our service.
I’m concerned about the staff. Will people lose their jobs?
Absolutely not – we are delighted that the merger will not involve any staff cuts. Quite the opposite in fact, we are keen to retain all staff at the practices! As part of the merger we will be looking at our processes and procedures and taking the opportunity to review whether or how they can be improved. We are involving all the staff in this work and value their contributions to the development of the practice.
Doesn’t this just demonstrate creeping privatisation of the NHS?
We understand that there have been some comments on social media that BL Medical are a private organisation. This is incorrect. To clarify, BL Medical Practice and Archwood Medical Practice are both NHS surgeries adjacent to each other within the Health Centre.
Merger with BL Medical Practice
Since Archways and Dr Chanda came together in 2012 to form Archwood Medical Practice the complexity of running a surgery has continued to increase.
We continually review how we work to ensure that we can continue to offer our patients a high level of service and care.
We believe a key way to ensure that we are in a position to meets patients’ needs in the longer term is by growing the practice. For this reason we are currently in discussions with our neighbours, BL Medical Practice, about a merger.
There are many aspects that create a good ‘fit’ between the two practices including, the philosophy of the Partners, how the practices operate, our staff and of course physical location.
The partners at BL Medical Practice, Dr Ghafoor and Dr Raje, would both join the new entity and Dr. Raje and their Practice Manager have worked for Archwood Medical Practice previously.
We don’t anticipate any disadvantages to a potential merger and feel that as patients you will benefit from;
- Access to a larger team of Clinicians with more flexibility of appointments
- The potential to develop a wider range of services for you
- Sharing of expertise in specific areas
- Ongoing care from Dr Parker, Dr Chanda, Dr Fitton & Dr Begley and our nursing team
We welcome any feedback from our patients regarding this exciting venture.
Both practices are committed to taking your views into account and to take the time to manage the process carefully towards a target launch date of 1st July 2019.
Drs Parker, Chanda & the team