Health bosses respond to Peacehaven patients’ concerns

Healthwatch East Sussex has released a statement after it received several messages from concerned patients at the Meridian Surgery in Peacehaven.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 4:58 pm

Patients at the surgery in Meridian Way told Healthwatch East Sussex that they were having trouble making contact with, and receiving a response from the surgery.

They also complained about ‘extremely long wait times’.

A spokesman for Healthwatch East Sussex said: “In July, several reviews were posted on the Healthwatch East Sussex Feedback Centre which highlighted patient concerns about the Meridian Surgery in Peacehaven.

Meridian Surgery in Peacehaven. Picture: Google Street View

“Similar messages were also received through social media.

“These focused on challenges in making contact with, and receiving a response from the surgery, with extremely long wait times being recorded.

“To gauge the extent of these issues, Healthwatch East Sussex sought feedback from users of the surgery by developing and distributing a short video and supporting narrative which were posted on both social media and our website, as well as distributed via our newsletter.

“In response, Healthwatch East Sussex has received over 100 comments, with over 60 reviews of the surgery made on our Feedback Centre and submissions also being made on social media and via email.

“Positive messages were received, however, the difficulty in making contact and the knock-on impacts of this were evident in the vast majority of comments received.”

The spokesman said in August, Healthwatch East Sussex wrote to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) responsible for commissioning these services setting out a summary of the main issues identified in the information received.

This focused on:

• Long wait times to make contact via the phone system

• Poor functionality of the online appointment booking system

• Delays in making contact with, or hearing from practice staff

• Challenges in escalating issues around symptoms or access to medication

Healthcare East Sussex said the CCG responded and acknowledged that the scale of the responses over a short period of time and the common issues identified were a matter of concern.

The CCG also confirmed that issues had been discussed with the business manager and the senior GP partners at the surgery, it added.

“The response received identified that the practices have agreed with the CCG a comprehensive plan to take steps which respond to the issues,” said the spokesman.

These steps include:

• Recruitment of additional reception staff – 1 new part time receptionist recently started and 3 new receptionists are currently being recruited

• The recruitment of a clinical pharmacist, physiotherapist and a social prescriber under the national ARRS scheme and this will increase the capacity of the Peacehaven practices to meet patient needs, which should free up GP capacity for patient appointments

• New dedicated phone lines installed for outbound calls so that staff phoning out do not use the same lines that patients use to phone in

• A new dedicated phone line for patients to contact the medicines management team

• Reception managers now monitoring calls and supporting staff to deal effectively and efficiently with calls

• Recent recruitment of 5 additional GPs that will increase appointment capacity

The spokesman added: “The CCG will monitor the situation closely over the coming few months and will offer the practices whatever support they can to improve their service for local people.

“This will include making regular contact with Healthwatch East Sussex to explore any further feedback which is received in relation to these services.

“Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to monitor this situation and we encourage patients to continue to provide us with updates on these services.”

Talk is increasing of further lockdowns in the UK. What do you think of the situation? Join the Big Conversation and have your say on everything from healthcare to how the pandemic has affected you personally and how we make our communities stronger: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/bc-eastbourne