Appointment availability at Coleridge Medical Centre

We are sorry to hear of the difficulty many of our patients have been experiencing in gaining access to Coleridge Medical Centre. Whether it be GP appointments or telephone calls to our reception team, this is certainly not the service we aim to offer, but we, like many other practices in the UK, are struggling to meet the current level of demand for our services. Each day, we continue to do our best to deliver as many appointments as it is safe to but ultimately, we do not have unlimited resources and we are currently working to maximum capacity. 

At Your Service, published by the Policy Exchange and forwarded by Health Secretary Sajid Javid, states that 28 patient contacts per day is the expected requirement. Patient contact can be direct or indirect and can be classified as a face-to-face appointment, a telephone appointment, or an online query (such as eConsult). Our GPs regularly have more than double the recommended patient contacts per day, but unfortunately it is still not enough to meet demand. This is a National-level problem that cannot be resolved at individual Practice-level.

As with many other GP surgeries throughout the country, the practice has also experienced significant amounts of staff absence for a number of reasons. As a Practice we have 15 GPs and 2 Nurse Practitioners, of whom we have had one GP recently off for 2 months due to a major illness, another GP off with a long-term illness, one on maternity leave, another on sabbatical, and approximately 6-8 weeks of clinical time lost during March and April due to COVID-19 within our team. Even though we currently have a long-term locum GP assisting the Practice, we are unable to gain anymore locum cover.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide unlimited appointments as this would be unsafe and it would compromise the service and care you receive. Once our appointments are fully booked, we are unable to create more. 

Some of the challenges we face as a GP surgery:

  • A large number of appointments being requested for minor ailments that usually run their course, such as sore throats, coughs, colds. These conditions would previously have been managed at home without GP input, and better dealt with at a community pharmacy.
  • We can now be contacted in more ways, but the number of GPs, and GP appointments to offer, has not increased.
  • The scope for more complex disease management has increased, and a large portion of the care of these conditions has moved from Secondary Care to Primary Care.
  • Pressures for appointments in hospitals and other services mean GPs continue to care for these patients while they wait for their appointment elsewhere in the system. 

Some of the improvements we are making:

  • We have been increasing the size of our team by recruiting more GPs, nurses, admin staff and working more collaboratively with our Primary Care Network.
  • We have increased our phone lines to accommodate the number of incoming calls we receive.
  • We have introduced a new automated telephone system so that patients can book, cancel or check the details of an appointment 24/7.
  • For any urgent on-the-day needs, our medical administrator team are more than happy to assist.
  • We are changing our appointments so that there will be more routine appointment availability for non-urgent needs. This process can take some time as we work through appointments already booked & the demand for on-the-day consultations continue to be very high.

There are other options you can access to get the support you need when you need it. These include:

  • NHS 111 service for when you urgently need medical help / advice, but it is not a life-threatening situation
  • The NHS App
  • Community pharmacies

As always, for immediate / life-threatening emergencies, please call 999. 

We wish we were able to tell you that we will take the necessary action to rectify the situation, but, we can only guarantee that the staff and doctors at the Practice will continue to work as hard as they can to the deliver the best service they are able to provide within the limitation of the resources they have at their disposal. Whilst we acknowledge and understand the frustrations a few have with our service; we are also humbled and grateful for the many messages and letters of support and gratitude we continue to receive on a regular basis. 

Yours sincerely,

Coleridge Medical Centre