Have your say
IMPROVING THE AVAILABILITY OF GP APPOINTMENTS IN SHEFFIELD
Your views are needed to help us understand how best we can improve access to healthcare appointments.
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SURVEY CLOSES: MIDNIGHT, SUNDAY 5th JUNE
Covid Vaccine update April 2022
January 27th 2022 was our last Covid vaccine clinic at Porter Brook medical centre. Since we started delivering vaccines there over a year ago with our colleagues from Devonshire Green, Porter Brook, Harold Street and Clover City Practices we have administered a total of 23,635 doses. It has been a huge, collective effort and we would like to thank all the volunteers and staff who worked so hard to make this possible. We really enjoyed meeting so many of our patients and we’d like to thank you for your kind words and support (and for your patience if you had to wait in a queue).
If you have not had your first, second or booster covid vaccine you can access them in the following three ways:
National Booking Service
or attend a walk-in clinic
or by calling 119.
For patients who are eligible for the spring booster (i.e. people aged 75 years old and over, plus people aged 12 years old and over with a weakened immune system), we will be visiting the care homes we look after shortly to administer the vaccines to our patients and also we will be offering the spring booster to our housebound patients as soon as we can. Please bear with us as this will take some time. For any other patients please book in using one of the three options above when you are eligible.
Sharing your records
The NHS uses information about patients (patient data) to research, plan and improve. You can choose whether or not your data is used for research and planning, but need to ‘opt out’ if you do not want your data to be used in this way. There are different types of data-sharing you can opt out of. Further details and information about how to ‘opt out’ can be found here.
Letter from NHS Sheffield CCG
NHS Sheffield CCG have written an open letter to all residents to let you know about the challenges facing GPs in Sheffield and what you can do to help us, help you. Please take a few minutes to read it in full here: https://www.sheffieldccg.nhs.uk/news/OpenlettertoallSheffieldResidents.htm
An apology and explanation from the partners at Upperthorpe/Ecclesall Medical Centre (August 2021)
The past year or so has been incredibly difficult for everyone and there are times when you may have wanted to speak to a Doctor. We know that if you are feeling ill or worried that we are often the first place people want to turn to. Having to wait in a long queue on the phone to get through to reception and then possibly not being able to get an appointment with a GP must be confusing and upsetting for you and we’d like to apologise if this is the case.
The cause is not something that is within our control, but it impacts on our ability to provide a service to you and has been doing for some years. In recent years, the situation has become worse. You’ll probably have seen articles in the newspapers recently about a lack of GPs. At the same time GP workloads have gone up and the care we are expected to provide has become more complex. Funding has not kept pace with this and leaves us in a position where what we are expected to achieve is far greater than what is possible.
We thought it would be helpful if we shared some data about our contact with patients - in July 2021 there were 1453 telephone consultations and 1167 face -to-face appointments booked for our GPs and nurses. An example of a GP day in July involved reviewing between 30-40 patients (A mixture of face to face and telephone calls-many on multiple medications and with very complex healthcare needs), supporting other staff with multiple queries, 100s of prescription requests, clinic letters from patients' hospital appointments, blood tests, undertaking home visits and often not returning home until after 9pm.
This is despite the British Medical Association guidance saying that ‘up to 25 routine doctor-patient contacts a day could be deemed safe’.
All of us became GPs as we wanted to provide a quality service to our patients and because we care. It is devastating for us that at times it might feel as though we are not there for you and that you cannot reach us. This is not an issue that is unique to our Practice, across the country GP Practices are struggling to meet patient ‘demand’.
So, what can we all do?
It may be that you can find an alternative solution – 111 can help and www.NHS.uk is great for known health problems or medications. Pharmacies can help with minor illnesses or medication queries. The minor injuries department at the Hallamshire Hospital can help with a number of minor injuries, for more information see here (https://sheffieldurgentcare.co.uk/minor-injuries-unit.html)
When you phone the surgery, please remember that our receptionists will have been taking calls from lots of patients who want to speak to a Doctor. They will try to make an appointment for you but if there are none available, they may have to suggest alternatives. At times a Doctor may ask them to phone you back with further advice – please follow this advice, it might include a suggestion to go to A&E or the walk-in clinics, or you may be offered an appointment at one of the out of hours hub clinics.
If you are offered a telephone appointment, please make sure you answer your phone when the nurse or GP rings – in July there were 91 missed telephone appointments due to patients not answering their phones.
Many of the calls we receive are from patients ordering repeat prescriptions. Have you tried using the NHS App to order these instead? You may have started using it already to prove your vaccine status: https://help.login.nhs.uk/setupnhslogin/
We’re constantly reviewing how we manage our appointment system and looking for ways to try to increase access to our Doctors but ultimately there are just not enough GPs to meet the demand for appointments. So, we have also been looking at bringing in other staff who are able to help - we have a new Physician Associate who has just started at the Practice - you may find that you are given an appointment with her rather than a GP when appropriate.
We’re also looking at bringing in a new website with more information and advice available.
We hope this apology helps you understand the pressures that all GP surgeries are under currently and reassures you that our commitment to you as patients remains as it always has been. We will continue trying to provide the best quality care that we can in the circumstances that we find ourselves. We will continue trying to find solutions where these are possible, and we will keep communicating any changes we make. We hope that you will bear with us.
Doctors Jayne Atkinson, Nicholas Hudson, Victoria Knott, Oded Peretz, Ben Riddell and Michael Taylor.
From Monday 19th July 2021
Throughout the Pandemic we have strived to make the surgery as safe as possible for all our patients and staff. We will continue to do so going forwards.
From 19th July nothing will change at the surgery – patients will need to still wear a face mask, socially distance, and use hand sanitiser in the surgery and staff will continue to wear PPE where appropriate. We do understand that it can be frustrating, but we know that when people come to us they are sick and vulnerable so we feel it would be wrong not to take these small precautions that help protect everyone. We are asking all our patients for their help in keeping the surgery a safe place for themselves and our most vulnerable patients.
We will also continue with our current system whereby initial GP consultations are by phone and the Doctor will decide whether they need to see a patient face to face or can provide the care needed by phone. Throughout the whole pandemic we have continued to see patients face to face where needed and in recent months we have been bringing more and more patients into the surgery where necessary.
Upperthorpe and Ecclesall Medical centre has come so far in trying to minimise the impact of Covid-19 and we are sure you understand that we need to keep the surgery as safe as possible for ALL our patients as we can. We would like to thank all our patients for your continued support and kindness during this time and we will continue to update you of any changes through the news section of our website.
Donation to Zest
We are delighted to have been able to donate £350 to Zest Centre in Upperthorpe as a result of money raised by our patients through book sales. Matt Dean, CEO at Zest says:
“We would like to thank the Upperthorpe and Ecclesall Medical Centre staff team and their wonderful patients for their kind donation to Zest. We plan to use the funding to provide more targeted mental health support for young people, aged 16-18, including workshops to manage anxiety and depression and mentoring support to help ensure young people have someone they can talk to.”
Zest are holding two COVID vaccine information sharing events via Zoom
Tuesday 16th March - men's session
Thursday 18th March - women's session
Our Doctors and practice staff will be there to answer your questions.
Details of how to attend can be found here
We are receiving an increasing amount of calls from patients requesting their NHS number to allow them to book their covid vaccination once invited to attend a mass vaccination centre. This is causing a delay in unwell patients being able to get through to the surgery to request medical assistance.
If you require your NHS number please don’t call the surgery. You can obtain your NHS number using your log in to your online medical records OR click here to have your number emailed to you.
Visiting the Surgery during Covid-19
Do I need to wear a face mask?
- If you have been invited to attend the surgery by one of our clinicians we ask that you wear a face covering to help protect yourself, other patients, our clinicians and other staff members. The safety of all is of paramount importance to us.
You MUST wear a face covering that should cover your nose and mouth. See illustration below to make your own at home or visit www.gov.uk/phe/face-coverings
You will not be allowed access to the surgery and to your appointment with our clinicians by failing to wear a face covering.
We ask that you do not wear gloves.
When visiting for your appointment please if possible attend alone, carers or parents of course are able to attend. Our aim is to help minimise the number of people in our waiting area at one time.
We have a system in place in the waiting area to allow patients to be seated 2m apart.
Hand sanitisers are available and should be used by all visiting patients.
Please be reassured our surgery is a 'Clean' and 'Safe' area to visit, we are following strict protocols to ensure the safety of all.
Our GP’s and nurses are here for you- We continue to ensure that people who need care or medical assistance receive it. Do not ignore other health issues or ongoing medical conditions.
Changes to the appointment systems
Daily telephone triage
We are screening all appointments at the surgery. Anyone who would like an appointment should call the surgery before 10.30am, but please expect a call from a GP or other clinician before a face to face appointment is offered. If we are able, we will try to help you over the phone and avoid a visit to the surgery.
Explore other ways of working
We are exploring other ways of caring for our patients, including online consultations and we are now able to offer video calls and receive picture messages from patients.
Medication/chronic disease reviews and routine investigations
We are relaxing our medication review requirements and on a case by case basis weighing up the risk of bringing patients to the surgery for reviews etc against postponing this until a later date.
Other measures at the Surgery
- Protecting each other
We ask that patients attending the Surgery wear a face covering and follow our social distancing and infection control procedures which are indicated when entering the building.
- Entry to building via intercom
For patients who attend the surgery, we are allowing access via an intercom. Public Health England are encouraging any patients with a cough, fever or shortness of breath not to attend the practice (and to access healthcare via NHS 111 Online). If anyone with these symptoms does enter the building, we may have to briefly close for a deep clean, so would rather avoid this disruption. We will call back via telephone any patients who attend with these symptoms.
- Prescription collection and ordering
We have alternative methods of ordering and collection prescriptions rather than attending the surgery. These are potentially more convenient for patients, and we have been promoting them for some time. We are now strongly encouraging patients to register for our online services or the NHS App to order prescriptions, and nominate a pharmacy (by either speaking with our reception team, or the community pharmacy) so that your prescription can be sent electronically.
- Letters and non-urgent private services
There may be some delay in non-urgent matters, such as insurance forms and other letters as we deal with acute medical problems. With regards to holiday cancellations and insurance forms, information is available on the gov.uk website, and you should not require a letter from your GP.
- Sick Notes & Letters regarding Coronavirus
The Surgery will not be issuing letters for patients with coronavirus, or self isolating. The government have released an online portal for patients requiring confirmation for their employer. Information about MED3 Fit notes (sick notes) for your employer is also on the gov.uk site.
- Screening coronavirus symptoms
- It may be necessary for us to see patients with respiratory symptoms at the Practice (after speaking with a doctor).
- We already have robust infection control procedures and are well prepared for circumstances such as this. We have allocated an entrance away from the main reception area and have a designated room to contain potential infection.
COVID-19 Support – We’re Here for You
- It is understandable that during times like this, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious, and overwhelmed.
- Our Social Prescriber can help you with finding the support you need, whether that be ensuring you have your groceries, linking-up to mutual support groups, or building your mental health.