Problems getting appointments, prescriptions and phone calls answered
Patients at the new Nelson Medical Practice in Merton Park have had trouble making appointments, getting through on the phone and obtaining prescriptions.
The new practice, part of the new Health Centre on site of the former Nelson Hospital in Kingston Road, became the largest GP practice in Merton went it opened in April.
But it's recently contacted some of its 20,000 patients to apologise for problems they've had with various aspects of the surgery.
In a letter to patients it says some have complained it is difficult to make an appointment, while there have been delays in the processing of prescriptions and many patients can't get through on the phone.
The reasons for the lack of routine appointments include a reduction in the number of regular GPs due to maternity leave, long-term illness and its inability to secure new doctors on fixed term contracts.
It also says the availability of suitable locums has been limited and virus infections in the community have increased the need for appointments and also caused short-term staff sickness.
Actions to resolve the appointments problem include ensuring patients are reassured there are two GPs permanently available from 8am-6.30pm on Monday-Friday in their "same day team". Those seeking a booking on the day will always get a call back and have their problems dealt with.
The practice is also currently recruiting three new full-time doctors.
Staff sickness and the pressure on the GPs' workload has also helped cause delays in prescriptions being processed.
The letter from the practice says it's improving sickness absence cover, including bringing in agency staff. It's also clarifying its own internal processes and working with local pharmacies to improve the system.
And on-going problems with the phone system has involved calls being 'dropped' for no reason and patients being stuck in a queue without being registered on the system.
On December 14 it tweeted on @NMPractice: "If you are waiting for 20 minutes, then you are probably not in a real queue". But by December 17 it said the phone system was much improved following work by the provider, but its website still warned there might be problems.
Its letter to patients reads: "Clearing this is unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to work with the South East Commissioning Support Unit who are responsible for the phone system at the Nelson Health Centre to resolve these issues."
It has also implemented a system where extra staff members can be pulled onto phone answering when the queue starts to lengthen.
December 24, 2015