Petworth Surgery ‘horrified’ by claims that GPs are ‘shutting out’ patients

Petworth Surgery has hit back at claims that patients are being ‘shut out’ by GPs across the country.

Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 4:18 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th September 2020, 9:53 am
Petworth surgery reassures patients. Pic Steve Robards SR2009222 SUS-200922-174131001

Last week, NHS England sent a letter out to all doctors, reiterating the importance of providing in-person appointments for those who need them.

On social media it was interpreted as GPs being ‘ordered’ to give patients face-to-face appointments, following ‘growing concern’ that too many people are being ‘shut out’ from surgeries and only being offered remote consultations.

Hafiza Bhabha, practice manager at Petworth Surgery, said she and her colleagues were ‘horrified’ by such claims, having offered nearly 1,500 face-to-face appointments in the last five months.

Petworth surgery reassures patients. Pic Steve Robards SR2009222 SUS-200922-174155001

She said: “We are a surgery full of robust and resilient staff members.

“There’s obviously been a lot of changes to the way we do things, with more telephone appointments than face-to-face now than ever. We need to see our patients safely, triaging patients to assess their needs and assessing them physically only when clinically necessary.

“We have never closed, we have just changed the way we’ve worked.

“The negative rhetoric in the media is demotivating. We have all worked really hard for almost four months.

Petworth surgery reassures patients. Pic Steve Robards SR2009222 SUS-200922-174143001

“They have all risked their own lives.”

Throughout the pandemic, Petworth Surgery said it has; offered 1,490 face-to-face appointments with a GP; paid 336 visits to patients’ homes; given 3,338 face-to-face appointments with the nursing team; dispensed more than 4,000 medications; conducted 7,574 telephone appointments with patients; offered 1,640 phlebotomy appointments; issued 3,456 prescriptions and referred 882 people.

Ms Bhabha said the surgery has tried to be ‘as approachable and open as possible’, whilst also supporting Petworth Town Council and Petworth Vision’s local volunteer service, aimed at helping vulnerable residents.

She added: “We have seen a massive increase in telephone queries. Normally our telephone calls pre-Covid were around 4,000 a month. We are hitting more than 6,000 now.

“We’ve had some challenges over the telephone, since the headlines, and have tried to reassure patients that they will be seen if needed.

“We are dealing with all sorts of challenges. We’re a small business which has had to react and respond, at times, quicker than other commercial organisations.

“We have done really well to keep up with what we’ve needed to do. We are doing the best we can.

“We can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. All we know is there will be further changes coming.”

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