Morecambe GPs help avoid potential ‘patient catastrophe’

Bay Medical Group was formedwhen two local practices merged to improve workforce resilience and the delivery of patient care.
Bay Medical Group was formedwhen two local practices merged to improve workforce resilience and the delivery of patient care.
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Large super practice introduces new ways of working to ease the strain on local health services.

Two GP practices in Morecambe which were under threat of closure have joined forces with GP colleagues to secure future services for local patients.

Massive pressures remain on general practice, which can see people wait days – and in some cases weeks – for an appointment.

It’s a national crisis, with many surgeries currently advertising vacancies for doctors but receiving no applicants, while in some places GP surgeries have actually closed.

Bay Medical Group was formed in April 16 when two local practices – Meadowside and Coastal – merged to improve workforce resilience and the delivery of patient care. Subsequently two smaller practices, Westgate and York Bridge, which were under threat of closure, also joined BMG. This helped save local patients from a loss of service which would have been catastrophic for the Morecambe area

But the pressures on the service are still high. Now the partners and staff at Bay Medical have issued an open letter outlining the local situation and what they – and the public – can do to help.

What is happening in Morecambe?

We want to offer better access and more convenient, timely appointments to improve the care we offer, and we know how frustrating it is for staff and patients when it can’t be done.

We had already undertaken the following measures to improve services:

- Establishing a minor injuries service in Morecambe to avoid travel and long waits at A&E and help relieve the pressure in our A&E and on our ambulances.

- Investing in Morecambe Health Centre and the West End Medical Practice to upgrade reception areas and locate pharmacies conveniently in the buildings.

- Extending GP opening times as a national pilot from 8am to 8pm seven days a week and implementing an urgent visiting service so patients requesting an urgent visit are seen more quickly.

- Employing clinical pharmacists to support prescribing services, paramedics for our urgent visiting service, and advanced practitioners to deliver more urgent appointments.

- Working with other services

While the above measures are helping we know we need to do even more and we are working hard with University Hospital Morecambe Bay, Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Lancashire Care Foundation Trust to improve access to:

- physiotherapy

- mental health services

- your GP

Striving to help

We recognise, however, we have some way to go, with increasing patient expectations and demands and an ageing population with increasingly complex medical problems. With no additional GPs we will do what we have always done; we will continue to do our best.

What can you do to help?

You can look after yourself better by:

- Living a healthier lifestyle: It’s important to take regular exercise, not smoke or drink excessively, and eat healthily and in moderation.

- Managing self-limiting minor illness yourself: This applies to minor illnesses such as coughs and colds. You can also use other health professionals such as your local pharmacist if you need advice.

- Learning more about looking after yourself: You can access a wide variety of resources and advice, including self-help videos by local GPs on YouTube, our own website, information on the CCG and NHS choices websites and self-help leaflets available in surgeries.

- Letting us know when you are unable to attend an appointment: In just one month last year we had 1444 appointments not attended. We know that plans can change, but please get in touch to let us know. If you have a mobile phone you will get a reminder with an option to text back if you need to cancel for any reason, otherwise please call us, then we can use that appointment for another patient in need.

- Remaining calm: We know your frustration can sometimes express itself as anger and our reception staff and other patients are often exposed to verbally aggressive, threatening or offensive behaviour. While we understand the reasons for your frustrations, this is never acceptable and we would ask that we don’t forget the importance of kindness. Our staff are trying their best to help you.

- Getting involved in our patient group: We are looking for new members with enthusiasm and energy to help us improve our services through our patient user group The Patient Voice. If you are interested and would like more details please use the contact details below.

- Giving us enough information: Whenever you contact the surgery please remember to share any relevant information so that we may ensure you see the right person for your care. Our receptionists follow strict protocols prepared by clinicians and are supported by them. All our reception staff are trained in patient confidentiality.

Chris Greenwood, patient engagement manager, said: “All the staff at Bay Medical Group want to provide a great service and we are all working hard to ensure that the services you get are the best they can be.

“The partners and staff would also like to take this opportunity to thank patients who have experienced the best of our service and been generous with their praise. Thank you for your support, the partners and staff really appreciate it.”

To get in touch, contact Chris Greenwood in writing at Bay Medical Group, West End Surgery, 1 Heysham Road, Morecambe, Lancashire LA3 1DA or simply leave your contact details with the receptionist at your usual surgery and Chris will contact you.