Surgery to take on new doctors in effort to improve appointment availability

Bradley Stoke Surgery, Brook Way.

Bradley Stoke Surgery has announced that it is taking on two new doctors over the coming months, which it is hoped will give “more available appointments” for patients registered at the Brook Way practice.

The news was revealed in a letter from the surgery’s business manager Sandra Lloyd, circulated at last night’s meeting of the Bradley Stoke Safer and Stronger Community Group (SSCG).

The nine GPs currently working at the surgery will be joined by Dr Saddiqui, a male doctor, from 1st April and Dr Acharya, a female doctor, from 7th May.

The practice also reports that it has already increased the strength of its nursing team by employing two extra health care assistants.

And in an effort to cater for working patients, the Lead Nurse now works until 6pm on three days of the week and 6:30pm on a fourth.

The difficulty of obtaining appointments at the surgery has been an ongoing issue of concern for many patients and the subject was most recently raised by Cllr Tom Aditya at the SSCG meeting in May 2012.

The practice responded by sending one of its senior partners, Dr Kilmartin, to address the next SSCG meeting (in August), where it was explained that the surgery’s operation had been disrupted by staff sickness, which had “affected the availability of appointments”.

Measures introduced to improve the situation have included opening the practice at 8am (previously 8:30am) and keeping it open over the lunch period. Appointments can now be booked in person at the surgery from 8am or by telephone from 8:30am, although many patients at the August meeting remarked that by the time they are able to get through on the phone, all the appointment have gone.

Dr Kilmartin claimed that the surgery receives funding for only 10,000 of the 15,000 patients that it actually serves, because Bradley Stoke’s population consists mostly of younger people who are considered less needy, in practising terms, by the NHS.

The surgery also has a system for booking appointments online, although patients have complained that too few appointments are made available though it. In her letter, Ms Lloyd explains that not all appointments are put online “so not to disadvantage patients who do not have internet access”. In June 2012, 154 appointments were offered online, increasing to 264 in October 2012.

A leaflet explaining the appointment booking system is available in the waiting room at the surgery.

In the 2011 GP Patient Surveys (the latest for which results have been published), Bradley Stoke Surgery scored 5.7 out of 10 for the “accessing care” indicator, compared to the national average of 7.2.

The difficulty of obtaining an appointment at the practice is a common theme in reviews left by patients on the NHS Choices website. Respondents over the last year have complained of a “very very poor appointment system” (16th November 2012), an “incredibly bad appointment system” (6th September 2012) and not being able to get an appointment “unless you can wait out in the cold from 8am” (16th February 2012).

Patients queue outside Bradley Stoke Surgery.

Photo: Patients queue outside Bradley Stoke Surgery on a cold winter’s morning in the hope of securing a same-day appointment.

Patients have also taken to venting their frustration on Twitter. A couple of recent examples are:

Related links: Doctors in Bradley Stoke (The Journal)

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  1. Sounds as if the penny has finally dropped. Bigger building with same number of doctors was never going to help. More doctors equals more appointments – simples! So why wasn’t it done earlier??? Where has our NHS money been going all these years???

  2. This has been an issue for years so to blame the NHS for not funding properly and Doctors sickness is not acceptable. They have had plenty of time to sort this out.
    I speak to lots of people who use other surgeries and they can’t believe we still have to queue for a same day appt. You see young children still in their pyjama;s in the queue in the freezing cold.
    Ringing for an appt is a waste of time as they are all gone by the time you get through and the online appt system is useless unless you want an appt in 3 weeks time.
    Come on BS Surgery sort it out!!!

  3. probably would help if people didn’t go to the doctor with the sniffles or a broken toenail. i haven’t seen a doctor for about 8 years and yet know many who visit for ‘checkups’ only to be dismissed as time wasting.

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