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09 June 2016

Please be aware we very short staffed on Reception today. We apologise if there is a delay in answering your call.


Urgent Letter to Patients Further to Notice from March 2016                            Monday 9th May 2016

Dear Patients

As you may have found, there have been problems with appointments particularly with the availability of advance appointments and booking with specific GP’s. This is a problem that ALL the staff tirelessly work on daily, sometimes hourly to achieve what we can with the resources we have.

The surgery is dealing with unprecedented challenges. We have had an extra ordinary run of serious illness in our clinical staff members. Many of you are aware that our Nurse/Technician Karen was involved in an accident before Christmas, following this Paula, our main senior Practice Nurse, is receiving treatment for cancer. Last month Dr Al-Masud was admitted to hospital with a serious illness and remains off sick. We would like to take this opportunity to thank those that have sent their best wishes to them.

Set against this is a national crisis in General Practice. Funding has fallen in recent years from 11% of the NHS budget to 9% yet workloads are increasing exponentially as work is pushed from the Hospital Sector to General Practice. GP’s have been leaving/retiring early and junior doctors are not choosing a career in General Practice due to high workloads and decreased funding. This has created a recruitment crisis and also a lack of locum GP staff.

The Birches has been trying to deal with our personal challenges with the bigger picture of increasing work and less money to achieve it. The biggest problem has been trying to cover sick leave set against the lack of locum staff availability (despite NATIONAL searching) for nurse cover and GP cover. The situation has meant huge pressure has been put on all staff members, staff have made personal sacrifices to help and provide cover. Reception have worked tirelessly to rearrange appointments and clinics, other clinicians have increased their work in order to accommodate urgent issues that have arisen from this, which we appreciate greatly. We apologise if you have problems with appointments, we are constantly trying on a daily basis to provide the best we can with the resources available.

As you can see there is a bigger national problem in General Practice, so what are we doing locally to try and address this? Some new money has finally been promised to General Practice nationally in recognition of the crisis, however, this will not solve the immediate problems. It is clear that the way forward is economy of scale working and there are discussions at hand to consider multiple local surgeries working together to secure the future of General Practice in the area. We are actively involved in these discussions as it is clear that this is a way forward that will improve recruitment/retention of clinical staff and providing a long term stable service.

Whilst we are facing difficulties with securing nurse cover we still ask that you help in the following ways: -

Blood Tests -               Where at all possible we are requesting patients visit the Riverside Clinic (on Landseer Road). There is a ‘drop-in’ service Mon – Fri 07:45 – 17:30 and bookable appointments on weekday afternoons (tel 01473 703721). There is ample free parking and good access for wheelchair users. We have had very good feedback from patients that have already used this service.

Minor Ailments/Wax removal –         The local pharmacies offer great advice on how to deal with minor ailments and advise on suitable over the counter medicine. The NHS choices website is very useful tool on advice on dealing with minor ailment and injuries. PLEASE SEE THE LINK FOR INFORMATION OF HOW YOUR LOCAL PHARMACY CAN HELP YOU

Contraception –          We should be your first port of call for contraception issues, however if you are unable to get an appointment with the Nurse for this The Orwell Clinic can deal with all contraception issues and sexual health queries. This is found on Lindbergh Road Ipswich (between Felixstowe Road and Nacton Road) tel 0300 123 3650. This also has ample free parking.

Routine Annual Reviews –      Please could these be postponed until end of June (however if you are experiencing changing symptoms or a worsening of your condition please make an appointment)

Whilst we are short of GP/Nurse Practitioner Appointments there will be occasions where we have to prioritise seeing patients with urgent needs, we understand that this is difficult for our patients and can sometimes be an inconvenience.

When you make an appointment you will also be asked by the Receptionist the reason for your visit, this is in no way to ‘triage’ the appointments, it has been requested by the clinician you are seeing to help them prepare for your appointment and help clinics run on time. This information is confidential and you are under no obligation to disclose this information if you do not feel comfortable doing so.

Please bear with us over the coming weeks and if there are delays in surgeries please be understanding and respect the pressure reception and clinical staff are working under.

We understand that this situation can be frustrating for our patients; we are very sorry for this and grateful for your support and understanding.


Dr Nicholas Edwards, Senior Partner

Dr Darren Cave, Partner

Dr Mohammad Al-Masud, Partner

Rachel Wilson, Practice Manager

Victoria Sawyer, Practice Manager

The Birches Medical Centre



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(Site updated 09/06/2016)
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