Open Letter to our patients - Feb 2023

Dear Patients of Waterfield House Surgery,

Since we wrote to you all in July 2022, there have been lots of changes here at Waterfield House and with the wider NHS that affect you one way or the other. On a positive note, we wanted to share with you all that we have Dr Jennifer Stainfield who has joined us as a GP Partner from 31st October. She took over all the patients that were managed by Dr Chinwe Okechukwu. Dr Stainfield is part-time and works on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

 Ross Smith, our Clinical (Paramedic) Practitioner, is now working four days a week instead of two days from January. Tina Walters joined us as our new Health Care Assistant in November and Diana Taylor as a Practice Nurse from January.

We have also introduced eConsult as an ‘interim aid’ to check symptoms, receive medical advice or consult with GP/clinicians at Waterfield House. This can be accessed from our website. We are aware that quite a few of you who have tried this are happy with the service. However, we are still looking out for a better solution that is more equitable (especially for those who are unable to access the internet) than eConsult and hence we are saying it is an interim aid.

On the other hand, we have lost Amelia Green, our Physician Associate, who left us at the end of November. Over the summer, we lost quite a few staff at the reception desk, which put a lot of pressure on our already stretched resources. Though we are fully staffed at the moment, we are aware that it takes around a year for the new staff to come up to full-speed, which can result in a longer wait time on the phone for you.

The number of patients registered with us has steadily climbed up and we are at nearly 6500 patients, an increase of around 5% compared to 2018. This includes the patients from nursing homes and other residential care homes we serve.

Though recruitment is very tough at the moment, we are continuing to seek an additional part-time GP Partner which will bring stability to the surgery and will also solidify our future. Likewise, we are recruiting General Practice Assistants and Medical Receptionists. We are trying to do these with the constraint of space!

As the wider NHS evolves, it has an impact on General Practice and you as a patient. E.g., because of fewer numbers of staff across the system and the country, the wait-time for hospital appointments has increased, leading to further care necessitated because of this wait. These patients approach the GP for further care/treatment which otherwise would not have been necessary. This effect has led to huge strain on the health system, fuelled by patient demand, lack of staff, lack of certain medication, and a general squeeze on resources. Unfortunately, this can’t be fixed overnight and will take a strong political will and determination to fix it over the next few years.

In the meanwhile, we ask you to be aware of the situation as we all navigate the troubled waters of the health system. Please continue to be kind and respectful to our staff who are doing all that they can do to help you. We are stretching our resources as much as we can but are conscious of burning out or creating a stressful environment for our staff which will have a detrimental effect on us and you too. If we are unable to offer you an appointment, we will guide you to the local pharmacy, NHS 111 or an Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC). We wish you a healthy 2023.

Dr R Justice, Dr V Minkah and Dr J Stainfield
On behalf of Waterfield House Surgery

Published: Feb 27, 2023