We hope that you are keeping safe and well. We do appreciate the difficulties and anxiety that our patients are facing, and would encourage you to use our services if you need them. Our team are available to serve you as normal by providing phone and video consultations, and in essential cases only, face to face consultations.
Please keep in mind that the nation is still at threat from COVID-19, and we must act accordingly. We are very pleased to advise you that in June’s meeting, the Primary Care Committee approved the merger of Sherard Road Medical Centre and ourselves. We are very pleased by this, and we were commended for the detail that was provided to the committee and also the level of patient engagement we achieved during a challenging period. We are very grateful for your support, and as promised we wanted to keep you up to date on our next steps.
The merger enables us to provide consistency, continuity, and brings sustainability and resilience to both practices. It provides us with an enhanced workforce that can also develop new processes for the use of technology, allowing us to benefit from a more efficient service and economies of scale.
As part of our commitment to improve access to patients, and taking into account the changes in provision of service whilst considering the safety of both staff and patients, we will now be launching, as a soft launch, our e-consult service. E-consultations are now a government required contractual obligation for GP practices.
Patients will be directed to our website, and will need to fill out a questionnaire explaining the reason they wish to see a clinician. This will then be reviewed by a GP, who will then direct the patient to the most appropriate clinician or service. This may be an emailed response, a phone or video consultation, or a face to face consultation if deemed appropriate.
Studies and research have shown that this enables patients to access services in a more timely fashion, and reduces pressure on surgery phone lines, as patients will use e-consult as their first port of call. As it is online, they are able to complete the form at any time.
Our recent experience has shown that many of our patient’s concerns can be addressed without face to face appointments, and the uncertainty in regards to a second or further spikes of COVID-19 has forced practices to change the way their services are provided. However, we will continue to provide face to face consultations where clinically necessary, and overtime other services such as minor surgery will be reinstated.
The merger will also introduce a new cloud based phone system, which we hope will further improve patient access. The Coldharbour Hill number, 0203 675 0751, will be ported over to the system for a period, meaning at this moment in time there is no need to dial any other number. The phone menu will then direct your call to the relevant party.
A date has also been set for the full merging of the practice computer systems. Whilst we do appreciate that there still may be some anxiety about the merger, and that there will be some teething issues in terms of new process and systems, as well as those which come about through the IT merger, we would like to reassure you that we are confident the merger will provide great benefit to patients and staff alike. We ask for your support and tolerance whilst these changes take place.
The merged practice comes into force on 01/08/2020. All staff have been engaged, and all have expressed a preference to stay in the merged organisation. This pleases us, as it provides continuity for our patients. Dr Baksh will be a partner in the new organisation, but will now have the support of four other GP partners, reducing the workload and pressure on her. Sim has decided that he would like to step down as Management Partner, and will be doing so on 31/07/2020. However, he will still be working with the larger organisation in a strategic consultancy role.
Bridgette’s role has been enhanced, as she will be the practice manager of the larger organisation. She will be working alongside and responsible to Ms Helen Oakley as the Business Manager of the group of practices.
We would like to thank you for all your support over the years, and we hope you agree that the new and larger organisation will lead to an improvement in services to our patients. After more than 40 years, many of those as the lead GP at our practice, Dr Baksh would like to express her thanks and gratitude to you all. She has been honoured to serve you, and been humbled by your support over the years.
We now look forward to the next 40 years, and going from strength to strength in developing care to our larger merged population, with an incredible new team and fantastic leadership.
Dr M Baksh and Sim