A Letter from the Partners
Firstly, we would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for your kindness and support during the pandemic. So many of you have offered us encouragement in this extraordinary time; this is very much appreciated. In this letter we have outlined some of the changes that have inevitably occurred during this time and what this means moving forward for us as a practice.
It is now 16 months since the beginning of the first lockdown and as a practice we have been reflecting on all that has taken place in what has clearly been a challenging time for everyone. We have at times, been the busiest we have ever been and have needed to make big changes to the way we work. The extra demands placed on the practice by the pandemic, coupled with the need to effect changes to our working practice overnight, have seen our staff working at their absolute limits for sustained periods. We have had staff that have contracted Covid and others who are clinically vulnerable who have needed to change the way in which they work significantly. Despite this, by trying to adapt quickly, we have kept staff and patients safe.
Pre-covid the footfall through the surgery, was at times, over 300 patients a day with the waiting rooms often full to capacity. Legally required measures to limit the spread of Covid meant that this was no longer possible and we changed all of our initial appointments to telephone triage. We still continued to see patients in the surgery where needed throughout both lockdowns and we set aside designated areas for the assessment of patients who had Covid symptoms. We continue to operate in this way and over the past two months, out of 6,683 patient contacts, 3256 (49%) have been face-to-face in the surgery.
From December 2020, we started working with 4 other local practices to organise and deliver as many vaccinations locally as possible. All the staff involved had to undergo training and learn a whole new set of procedures, which was often done in their own time. Vaccination delivery was extremely challenging at times as we were frequently given very little notice of delivery and the initial vaccination clinics were required to be at a single location (which is why many of you received your vaccination in Stockwood). To deliver these clinics our staff worked many hours of overtime as we continued to see patients at Priory surgery in fully booked clinics. We are hugely grateful to our hard working team and are proud to have played a significant part in delivering 32,000 Covid vaccinations to our local patient population.
Going forward we continue to reflect on the appointment system and have recently met with our Patient Participation Group which we found very useful. Our appointment mix will change soon to include more face-to-face appointments. We will however be retaining the telephone triage element of our booking system, in part because some patients have expressed a preference for this, but also in order to minimise infection control risks associated with both the pandemic and crowded doctors’ surgeries more generally.
We have not closed once during the pandemic and have continued to function to meet the needs of our patients, albeit differently to how we were doing in the past. This has been a very difficult time for both patients and Priory surgery alike, but we wanted to say that we are here, we still care and thank you for your support during this difficult time.
From: Drs. Warrington, Gillings, Saunders, Drury, Wigmore and Rawling.
The Partners at Priory Surgery.