Front of house staff crisis

Dear Patients, We would like to bring to your attention that we are currently facing a workforce crisis within our Patient Navigation (Reception) team. We have two members of staff on long-term sickness leave and two who have recently resigned. This represents a 40% loss of capacity within the team. We immediately began the recruitment

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Zero tolerance to staff abuse and our current struggles

Dear Patients

I do hope to be able to share some good news stories with you at some point in the near future, as I’m aware that our communications of late have all been rather depressing. It is however important that we kept you fully informed of what’s going on and why NHS services are struggling. The following are explanations of the reality.

The impact of the Strep A scare has brought the NHS to its knees. We are now working at unsafe activity levels across Primary Care and 111 and A&E departments are full. We have had more contacts regarding this than we had during the COVID pandemic.  

The British Medical Association (BMA) suggests a safe working number of consultations per practitioner is 25 per day. https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/gp-practices/managing-workload/safe-working-in-general-practice. As a Partnership we have considered this document internally and with our efficiencies feel we can safely provide more than this per day. We do this to enable our patients greater access to medical services with their named GP for continuity. A 3-day routine wait rather than the national average of 2 weeks plus wait.

Last week our same day access saw an increase of 45% more contacts over and above our norm. This was a horrid week. We used up every bit of staff goodwill and overtime to get us safely through the week rather than refuse or divert patients elsewhere. We chose not to cancel any routine care so this was all additional workload.

Due to the collapse of 111 over this weekend today (Monday 12th Dec) our contact levels are now overwhelming, extremely unsafe and frankly impossible to manage. 280 patients called us between the hours of 08:00 – 08:15. We have received more calls today, by lunchtime, than we had on a whole comparable day a few weeks ago.

Monday 12th December at 13:24

  • 1163 caller attempts into the practice
  • 295 calls answered
  • Average wait time to answer 4 minutes 19 seconds
  • Average talk time 2 minutes 2 seconds per call

Monday 24th October – Full day stats

  • 893 caller attempts into the practice
  • 436 calls answered (whole day)
  • Average wait time to answer 7 minutes 12 seconds
  • Average talk time 2 minutes 47 seconds per call

We have raised black alert with our Integrated Care Board (ICB) commissioners and have been told every Primary Care provider is in the same position. There is no immediate support that can be offered.

I think it is worth noting that we have triaged 1000’s of children and only a small number had Strep A and none of them have had invasive Strep A.

As a practice, due to ongoing pressures all year round, not just this winter, we have recruited 2 more GPs and 2 more Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) who start with us over the next few months, this is to ensure demand and capacity is at a safe and sustainable level for our workers. Our financial budgets can’t really afford these new staff but worker’s wellbeing is of higher importance. NHS finances is another political debate and one that we wish to park for now but needs national attention.

With all the above pressures we are very disappointed with a large number of patients who feel it’s OK to take their frustrations out on our staff members. They did not cause the crisis, they have no influence to change national/local policy, they do not set out to offend or frustrate anyone. The majority of staff work in the NHS because they care and wish to help patients, not because it is easy or well paid. Here at St Pauls Surgery we are going to be clamping down on verbally abusive patients. All calls are recorded. If patients are verbally aggressive going forward they will receive a written warning and if it continues will be de-registered from the practice. Being angry or demanding does not get you consulted any quicker.

We look to our HIOW ICB Commissioners and Local MP Steve Brine to offer short and long term solutions to the NHS Crisis both locally and nationally.

Please read the Wessex Local Medical Councils (LMC) ‘Help us treat the sickest patients the quickest’ communications https://www.wessexlmcs.com/pressreleasehelpustreatthesickestpatientsthequickestgpsofferadvicetoparentsamidsurgeinstrepacases

Thanks for your understanding

St Paul’s Partners