Message from the Middlewood Partners

You will not have failed to notice national headlines about the NHS being in crisis. Despite this, Middlewood has strived to continue with a safe, accessible and high quality service which meets everyone’s needs. With over 4000 requests a week, and around 1700 GP appointments, we are doing our best to meet rising needs, demands and expectations. This was recently reflected in our extremely positive patient satisfaction survey results. We have invested in more doctors, nurses and other clinicians over the last 2-3 years. In fact, we have a much higher than average ratio of clinicians to patients compared to the national average. We have transformed our model of care to ensure every clinical request is triaged by clinicians and given the most appropriate type and time of appointment we can. We have set up a daily urgent care service, which continues long after the surgery doors close. We work alongside our pharmacists, nurses and other clinicians to organise planned and annual reviews, as well as maximising our time in surgery, completing our significant administration workload in our own time. Despite this, general practice across the country is at saturation point and there is a point where the workload becomes so overwhelming that GPs and nurses, and the service they provide, can become less safe. The delays in A+E and the hospital system (leading to patients suffering much longer whilst waiting for operations and specialist opinions) have only added to the pressure the surgery experiences day in and out.

We try to manage as much as we can online (if appropriate), via the phone, and increasingly, face to face. We all have no doubt that had we not merged 3 years ago, some of our practices, and our GPs would have fallen by now. We are stronger, safer, more innovative, and more responsive than we have ever been. Despite this, we too are at saturation point. We will continue to try to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community, alongside our core duty to provide annual reviews for over 18,000 people a year. We will continue to offer as many appointments as we can create using our ever increasing workforce. However, if or when we are no longer able to accommodate non-urgent issues each day, we have no option but to switch off online appointment booking and only accept telephone requests for urgent appointments or advice.

We are desperately sorry if you find yourself affected by this situation. We are consistently raising these issues, alongside all our local GP practices, to NHS England. We are not alone, practices across the country are in crisis and it isn’t unusual for some practices elsewhere to have a 4-5 week wait for a telephone call. We continue to see or call the majority of requests within 1 week, with a same day service for over a third of all requests. We will continue to develop our services and workforce to meet the challenges we face. But, as winter approaches, we know the problem will only become more acute. This week we have had twice as many requests for appointments than we had to offer. We can only resort to “squeezing in” and adding extra appointments for so long before we ourselves become unwell. We don’t have the capacity to offer the covid boosters to everyone without affecting our core responsibilities as GPs. So we ask you to bear with us, think first before contacting us (consider seeing a pharmacist or going online, the NHS app is also a great way of accessing all your medical data), and be patient.

Many thanks. The Partners.