A letter to our patients

Posted on 30 August 2019

We would like to thank you for your patience over the past 6 months as we have gone through the transition in merging our GP practices. We appreciate that it has been very stressful for many of you, and we thank you for working with us as changes have come into place.

Unfortunately it took far longer than we anticipated for our computer systems to merge, which has meant that it has taken us longer to do routine tasks in reception, the treatment room and the GP surgeries. This computer system merge finally happened at the end of July. We have been working closely with the IT Department in the Health and Social Care Board and the company who provide the software. There have been some unanticipated problems which have taken longer to sort out than we would have hoped. We are hoping that in the coming weeks all of these will be rectified. All of this has been out of our control.

There has also been an increase in the workload we are experiencing in General Practice, which has increased the waiting times. We are offering the same number of appointments as we did before the merge happened, and we are trying to review appointment schedules to ensure a suitable service for everyone. As you may be aware, there is a shortage of GPs in Northern Ireland, and so we have found it difficult to get extra help with clinics when the work load has increased. We will continue to review our appointment schedule and we are arranging for extra GP appointments to be available from the beginning of September.

When contacting the GP surgery, please treat our staff with respect and courtesy as they try to make sure your condition is best treated. Our staff are likely to ask details from you to confirm they have your patient notes in front of them when putting the request through, as well as some details of your symptoms etc. This is to try to ensure you get put through to the most appropriate person to meet your needs in the most timely fashion. The most appropriate person to respond to your request may be one of the nursing staff or practice pharmacist instead of the GP. All of our staff are able to talk to a GP at any point if they have any queries about your condition or if there is any concern.

Unfortunately our reception staff have experienced a significant amount of verbal abuse from patients in the last 6 months, and we cannot allow this to continue. We have a zero tolerance policy to the verbal or physical abuse of our staff. We may have to ask for patients to be removed from our practice list if they repeatedly breach this policy.

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