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It has been another incredibly busy week for Devon’s health and care system. Following the decline in Covid-19 case rates some weeks ago, we are now seeing a continued, steady increase across the county. Cases are highest in the school-age and the 40-59 year old population. Although rising in places, the number of patients in hospital is much lower than we would previously have associated with the current infection rate and that is in no small part down to the role the vaccination programme in Devon is playing in fighting Covid-19
The below info graphs highlight local people’s experience with GP practices, where 93% of patients that asked for a face to face appointment got one and 88% described their experience as good. We are also sharing our practice workload statistics, comparing the volumes of work we have done at Compass House this September compared to the same month last year – you will notice that workload is significantly up in all areas, reflecting the increased demand we are seeing at the moment.
We felt this was important to share with you as there is a perception being portrayed in the media that many GP surgeries are either closed, not seeing patients for face to face appointments, or quieter than pre-pandemic levels. All of this is untrue for local practices, including ours. We have continued to see patients face to face throughout the pandemic, albeit we have had to adapt our models of working, and our practices are fully open. However, like everywhere, current demand is far greater than the number of appointments we have available each day and all of our staff are working extremely hard to meet as much demand as possible, but we can only fit so much work safely into our already overfull days.
Over the last 18 months we have received a huge amount of support from our patients about the pressures we are facing. These kind words of encouragement have made a real difference to our teams knowing they were coming to work to help people in difficult times and serve their Brixham Community. It saddens us that lately we are seeing an increasing amount of verbal abuse and complaints, particularly towards our reception staff, largely due to what people are reading in the media, which is not a true account of the service we deliver. All our teams are doing an impossible job in very trying circumstances, juggling higher than usual workload, working at the Vaccination Centre, catching up on backlogs of work, and managing staff sickness and COVID isolations, all alongside our patient numbers increasing by 1,000 over the past 12 months alone.
To help with demand we have continued to grow all of our teams over this time, we have also employed new roles such as Physiotherapists, Mental Health Workers, and a Dietician, as well as increasing our Social Prescribing capacity. We are fortunate enough to still be able to recruit and attract new staff; this is due to our outstanding reputation for the services we deliver, our hard working team ethos, and supportive friendly community, so we are lucky to have two more experienced GPs joining our Practice this month on a permanent basis. As a team we all care greatly about you, our patients, and endeavour to do the very best we can for each and every one of you.
In addition to recruiting extra staff, we are also expanding into new space at Brixham Hospital next year, meaning we will operate from 3 sites to house our enlarged team and serve our patient population, but like everywhere, demand will always exceed availability and so the teams need to manage this as safely as possible. This means matching your appointment request with the most appropriate clinician, sign posting you elsewhere to services such as pharmacies if appropriate, or requesting you call back the next day when we have reached capacity. We are not and never have been an urgent service, though we do always try to help out where we can. For urgent medical help you can call 111 for advice or use 999 in a life threatening situation.
We kindly ask patients to remember that our staff are human beings, from our own community, with the same emotions as everyone else. Each day they try their best to help as many patients as possible with the resources we have available, so please be kind and take a moment to think before letting off steam at them. We understand it’s a difficult time for many people, especially when you or a loved one are unwell, but being unkind is not the answer. Our team deserve to work in a safe, positive environment and a word of thank you or appreciation from patients will greatly improve their day and give them a break from the current negativity they are experiencing on a daily basis. We have a fantastic team at Compass House and we’re sure you’ll want them to remain in their roles supporting you this winter.
Thank you for your continued support,
The Partners & GPs of Compass House