Important Patient Update for September 2021

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To our Patients & Friends here at The Sides Medical Centre,

Things are tough right now for all of us. They have been for 18+ months. You might read things online or in the news about general practice being ‘closed’ but we want to set the record straight. As the practice team that you know and trust with your care.

To anyone who feels they haven’t received the support they deserve or expect from us, or who has felt let down or upset with the NHS during this difficult time – collectively, we are deeply sorry and below are some of the reasons why we’re in the situation we’re all in.

The truth is that we feel just as frustrated as you are with the pandemic. How it’s shown how deeply understaffed the NHS is. The waits, delays and cancellations have been inevitable and have had a knock-on effect on you and our team. This shared frustration is something that neither we nor you are in control of, and that’s the most difficult thing to face.

To that end, I know most patients have been unbelievably patient and understanding with us during these challenging times and we are so thankful. But if we have let you down in any way, talk to us direct. Wherever possible, I know our team will do everything we can to make your experience better – but we can only do that if you let us know what’s wrong in a constructive and meaningful manner.

We are a strong community here in Swinton and we need to keep looking out for each other. Things are tough right now but so are you and so are we. Please keep talking to us direct and thanks again for your continuing patience.

Dr Laurence Cribbin and the team at The Sides Medical Centre

Why can’t I book an appointment with the GP?

  • You can but a GP isn’t always the best person to see for every issue.
  • It’s best to see to the right clinician, at the right time, for the right reason.
  • Some things are done better or faster by other clinicians which we’re lucky to have now
  • Our GPs focus on patients with complex health needs. You may need to wait longer if you insist on seeing one.

Why can’t I see ‘my’ GP?

  • You can but your GP isn’t always the best person to see for every issue.
  • It’s best to see the same GP about the same problem – and we try to do this where possible.
  • It’s not always possible with rotas, staff sickness, training etc. Nobody likes to wait.
  • In these circumstances, we shall always put you with the next best clinician if ‘your’ GP isn’t available.

Why can’t you just employ more GPs?

  • There is a long-standing national shortage of GPs and other key staff such as nurses. 
  • In Salford, there are roughly 2,000 patients per one GP!
  • This means we need to use the skills of GPs for patients with the most complex needs.
  • GPs can’t provide all the care that modern-day patients need. Other specialists are needed which practices are slowly being funded to provide.
  • Finding locums (temporary doctors) to fill gaps is expensive and only offers a temporary fix.

Why do I need to tell the receptionist why I’m calling for an appointment?

  • It’s so we can sort out patients according to how urgently they need treatment, like A&E.
  • When you call us for an appointment, please give us as much information as possible. Most patients do.
  • Our admin team is trained and bound by confidentiality so it is safe to tell them your symptoms.
  • If you say ‘it’s personal’ or I can’t say’, we have to assume it is not urgent. Our GPs request these details.

Why can’t I have a face to face appointment?

  • You can – and have been able to do so throughout the pandemic so far.
  • Telephone appointments are convenient and safe. We can help more patients, quicker and it’s preferred by most of our patients.
  • Face to face appointments will always be offered for those with clinical need. If you insist, you may need to wait.

Telephone appointments mean we can handle demand more safely and make sure patients get the care when and where they need it.