We write this as an informational update during these busy and challenging times.
We are receiving feedback from patients that the telephone lines are very busy. We want you to know that we are doing our best to rectify the situation. We are also aware that calls are being ‘dropped’ and we are very sorry about that. It seems that this is happening at times when our phone lines are at capacity.
To assist with this, we ask if patients would consider phoning us outside of peak times, which are at 8.15am, lunchtime and early afternoon. Instead, if you call us at less busy times, we hope to be able to help. We are also talking to suppliers about a new system which should help increase capacity and improve access to the practice.
COVID booster update:
We are currently receiving up to 100 enquiries per day regarding these boosters, and to some extent this adds to call waiting times at reception. Boosters are only available to patients six months after the second dose. To book a COVID vaccine booster when your time comes, please use the national booking service, or call 119. The practice is not part of this booking service, and we cannot help you to book an appointment outside of the national service.
We do receive a lot of calls for issues such as tummy aches and runny noses that have begun only a few hours or even minutes ago. Whilst it is right that we hear about symptoms early on when they are severe, we will offer signposting for minor ailments to other valuable community services such as pharmacies, but for each call, this does take time and can add delays to those waiting in the telephone queue.
The need for politeness:
Our receptionists are valued members of the primary care team and do a fantastic job in helping everyone get the service they need. However, sadly, we have received feedback from them regarding abuse from patients. Clearly, we must ask that respect is upheld in every contact. It is well known that the NHS has a zero-tolerance policy towards abuse of any kind. We ask that we work together and avoid conflict whenever we can. Please be kind to our team. We really appreciate it.
Staffing and HR at the practice:
We have recently experienced a significant amount of staff absence in both clinical and non-clinical teams. Some of this is due to COVID but other factors also play a part. This will impact upon remaining members of the team and adds additional pressures to the service we provide. We ask that you please be mindful of that.
We are trying to increase GP appointment availability by recruiting new GP’s. However, GP’s are in very short supply and we are yet to receive any applications since our national adverts went out in June. We have asked the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for help and support in this regard and asked for permission to close our list to new patient registrations. This will enable us to focus on the service we provide to our existing patients. This is being considered by the CCG currently.
Despite these difficulties, we are recruiting professionals allied to medicine to help us expand our team and we are welcoming onboard several highly valued additional team members who are due to start work with us soon. Our skilled reception team will book you in with the clinician best suited to deal with your problem, and that may not always be a GP. Please be prepared to have your consultation with our experienced pharmacist colleagues, paramedic practitioner, nurse practitioners, first contact physiotherapists and other allied health professionals.
Thank you for taking time to read this message and for your patience with us during this time of extreme high demand on our service.
Covid Boosters and 3rd Doses
The Pulteney Practice is no longer part of the Covid Vaccination Programme. Severely immunocompromised patients who had their 2nd dose more than 2 months ago will be contacted by the Bath Racecourse for their 3rd primary dose of the Covid vaccination. Those patients will be contacted by NHS England for their Covid booster vaccination (4th dose) once 6 months has passed since their 3rd primary dose. All other patients who have received two doses of the Covid vaccination will be contacted by NHS England once 6 months has passed since their 2nd dose. Please do not contact the Practice to book these in as we have no way of booking. Once the time comes that you are due your vaccination, you can call 119 for enquiries and bookings. 119 will not be able to answer your questions until you are due.
We are aware of the planned move to lifting the remaining Covid restrictions in England from the 19th of July. Medical settings are a higher risk environment and will need to be subject to more control measures than other public facilities. We are acting very cautiously and are maintaining social distancing, face coverings and PPE for clinical staff and request that patients continue to wear face coverings whilst inside our buildings. The delta variant is more transmissible and patients may come to the surgery when they are contagious. It is our duty to do all we can to keep both our patients and our staff safe whilst we deliver our care. Thank you.