Open Letter to Patients

Dear Patients,

We would like to thank you for your support over the last 18 months. It has been a very difficult time for all of us, having to adapt our lives to the new normal.

As things start to open up again, we would just like to share our experiences over this time with you:

  • The first week or two of lockdown were quieter than usual. People didn’t think they could bother us, even though we were open. This time was not wasted however. We contacted all our vulnerable patients to check that they had access to food etc. We contacted our shielding patients (the lists of eligible people changed on a weekly basis) and spoke to those who were confused about whether they should be shielding or not. Along with our GP Federation ABC, Dr Katie Spensley and Dr Katie Archibald set up the Hot Hub at Dolphin Leisure Centre. At this point we were being told that we might have to assess over 100 very unwell patients with Covid. This needed to be done in a safe environment and not mixing with non Covid patients. A daunting task you can imagine.
  • As things settled down a bit, we found our stride and settled into a bit more of a routine. As per NHS England Guidelines we changed from only face to face appointments, to remote consultations. This allowed us to deal with the vast majority of consultations over the phone, but if necessary we would still bring people in for a face to face appointment.
  • Our nurses have pretty much been working normally throughout the whole pandemic. They were seeing 40+ patients face to face per day to take bloods and do dressings/ECGs etc.

Our waiting room might not be bursting at the seams as it used to be, but that does not tell the story of what is going on behind the scenes at Lindfield.

  • We are all conducting as many appointments as we did pre-pandemic. We bring people in for face to face appointments, usually the same day, if clinically necessary.
  • Dr Katie Spensley and Dr Katie Archibald, with a great deal of support from ABC GP Federation, set up the Clair Hall Covid Vaccination Site. Dr Spensley is the Clinical Lead and still very involved in the running of the site.
  • We are conducting weekly ward rounds with all of our registered Care Homes - Compton House, Crossways, Summerlands, Westall House and Hollyrood.
  • As the hospitals are not seeing many people face to face, we are being asked to request investigations/do prescriptions that would normally be issued by the hospital.
  • Our call volume is up 50% compared to January 2021
  • On an average day, one GP will access 220 patients notes. This gives you some insight as to how busy we are dealing with telephone consultations, medication reviews, filing blood results, reading and actioning hospital letters etc.

We too are having to deal with staff absences due to isolation.
We are all working as hard as we can to try to provide the best service for our patients.
If it is taking longer to get an appointment at the moment, that is because we are dealing with current demand, plus the 18 month backlog of problems due to the pandemic.
We are all exhausted having worked incredibly hard over the last 18 months with no let up on demand.

Please help us by:

  • Being polite in any interaction with our staff. The level of abuse has increased significantly over the last 18 months. Our receptionists are subject to this behaviour multiple times each day. Please think before you shout or swear at them. We do have a Zero-Tolerence Policy which you can read about on our website
  • Think about whether you really need an appointment. Minor ailments like verrucas, fungal nail infections, ear ache, gastroenteritis, rashes are generally minor self-limiting conditions which can be dealt with at home without speaking to a doctor. Look at the NHS/Lindfield Medical Centre website for advice.  There is a long list of medication that we are now being told NOT to prescribe as it is available over the counter.
  • Please cancel your appointment if you no longer need it. If you have booked an appointment, but your symptoms resolve before that appointment, please phone up and cancel it. We have many wasted appointments each day phoning up people who no longer need to speak to us.
  • Think when requesting an urgent on the day appointment -  is this really appropriate, or can I wait until the next routine appointment? These are for medical emergencies that cannot wait (for example chest pain, shortness of breath, very unwell patients, mental health emergencies) not to request sick notes or hayfever medication.
  • Please request your medication in plenty of time. We are inundated with prescription requests, despite increasing the size of our prescriptions team.
  • If you are waiting for a hospital appointment, please do not call us. We do not have access to the hospital appointment systems. Instead please contact the central appointments hub on 0300 3038360. If you are unhappy with outcome of this you can call Patient Advice Liason Service (PALS) 01273 664511 (Royal Sussex Hospital) or 01444 448678 (Princess Royal Hospital) or
  • Get a PCR Covid Test if you have any symptoms of Covid (temperature and/or cough and/or loss of taste/smell).  A LATERAL FLOW TEST IS NOT SUFFICIENT IF YOU HAVE THESE SYMPTOMS

Many thanks for your continued support and understanding.

Dr Knight, Dr Spensley, Dr Shepherd, Dr Archibald, Dr Watson, Dr Hadlow, Dr Short, Dr Dias & Dr Kerbey