Patient Update – 29th October 2021

Dear Patients,

These are remarkably busy times for us, but we are doing our best to try and provide the best care that we can despite the vast increase in demand and staff absence due to illness and isolation. In October so far we have taken 8886 telephone calls. This demand is far greater than any we have experienced previously. This is 30% higher than our pre pandemic demand.

We have had teething problems with the new telephone system, but these are now beginning to resolve and therefore waiting times to get through should gradually improve. The wait is caused by the number of people trying to get through. The message will tell you where you are in the queue, this gives you the option of waiting or telephoning back later when the lines are not quite so busy. Please do not shout or swear at the receptionist once you get through, it is not their fault. Many are reduced to tears by the end of their shift by the regular abuse they are receiving.

We have been offering patients the choice of Face to Face or telephone appointments when booking by phone, since the middle of July. Currently around 60% of all appointments with a GP are done face to face. The majority of the 40% which are done by telephone are by the patient’s own choice. The exception to this is when the GP must work at home. Some conditions can only be dealt with in a face-to-face consultation and in these circumstances the patient is not able to choose a telephone consultation.

Flu Vaccines

There have been 2 large flu vaccine clinics which were well attended. There are 2 more clinics coming up on the first 2 weekends in November. All relevant patients have been sent a letter.

We will be vaccinating preschool children at the clinic on November 6th. Invitations went out 2 weeks ago but not very many have booked in. If you have a preschool aged child who has not yet had their flu vaccination do please go ahead and book even if you have not received a letter as there appears to be a delay with the post.

Covid Vaccines

All booster vaccines are Pfizer which requires a 15-minute period of observation after it has been given. This makes the process a lot slower than when we were giving the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

We are running small mid-week clinics for giving booster vaccinations. Patients are contacted by text message or telephone to attend these. The first patients to be invited were the immunosuppressed and clinically extremely vulnerable. We are now inviting people aged 80 and over. Those who have not yet been invited will be telephoned next week.

We will be holding a ‘Drive in Clinic’ for those who are largely housebound but whose families are able to get them in to the car and bring them to the surgery, where they will be given both their Covid Booster and Flu vaccine in the car. A letter will be going out to all these patients shortly with all of the details they need. The reason for this is that the amount of time needed to administer a Pfizer vaccine in a patient’s own home, will mean it will take us until February to get all this group of people vaccinated. Those who are not able to get to the Drive in Clinic will be vaccinated at home.

Please telephone the National Booking Service on 119, or at National Booking Service – NHS Digital, to book your Covid vaccine booster when invited. Please do not wait to have it at the surgery if you don’t absolutely have to. We need to keep all routine work going and so the boosters are going to take a long time.

Please remember to bring a mask with you when attending the surgery. We have many vulnerable people who attend, and we want to ensure they are as safe as possible. Masks are available at reception for a 50p donation to the Sue Ryder Foundation. You will need to wear a mask in your consultation.

Thank you,
Balmore Park Surgery