Gloucestershire GPs ask for public support in ‘unprecedented times’ and provide clarity about consultations

GP surgery teams across Gloucestershire are asking for the public’s continued support as they strive to meet the care needs of local people during times of unprecedented pressure.

They would also like to thank the vast majority of patients for their kindness, patience and understanding as they manage an extremely busy day-to-day workload, providing medical care to patients, whilst also leading the delivery of the county’s COVID-19 and flu vaccination programmes.

Demand for GP surgery services is extremely high – with practices seeing a significant increase in contacts – nearly 20% since 2019 – that’s a 5th more than ever before.

However, surgeries are open and face to face (in person) consultations with clinicians in the practice team are available to those who need them. They currently account for 65% of appointments in Gloucestershire (compared to 74% pre pandemic) and have been increasing.

Surgeries have adapted the way consultations can be offered to keep patients safe and make sure those with the greatest need are seen first.

All patients who contact their surgery, either on-line or by phone, are assessed to decide whether they need to be seen in person, via a phone or video consultation or if they would benefit from a visit to a community pharmacy.

Dr Andy Seymour, local GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“Our health services are under enormous pressure and demand for GP services is extremely high with almost a fifth more requests for consultations, but GP surgeries are open and here when needed.

Local GPs and all members of their practice teams are working longer and harder than ever before to provide the very best care and we are incredibly grateful to them for their fantastic commitment and resilience under intense pressure.

We are saddened by the physical and verbal abuse which some practices have experienced and concerned by the high levels of stress and burnout that practice staff are reporting. The risk of GPs leaving the profession is very real and worrying.

So whilst we understand that patients may sometimes get frustrated, we would like to ask patients to treat GPs and their staff with kindness.”

Dr Jeremy Welch, GP in Tewkesbury, said:

“GP surgery teams across Gloucestershire are working incredibly hard to consult with patients as efficiently as possible in ways that work best for everyone and keep patients safe, and we have adopted new ways of working to help us do this.

Face-to-face (in person) consultations have always been available to those who need them, and are now increasing.

Many patients have also found that telephone and video appointments, where appropriate, suit their lifestyle and working patterns, and have benefited from shorter waiting times for appointments and protection from sharing waiting room environments.

They can also benefit from the expertise of the range of professionals within surgery teams, such as nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists and social prescribers.”

Advice for patients

  • If your illness is minor, try to manage your symptoms yourself for a day or two. Visit nhs.uk for helpful information and your local pharmacy is a great first port of call.
  • If your illness is not going away, or you are worried about your symptoms, contact your GP surgery.
  • If you’re ill or injured and are unsure where to turn, click www.111.nhs.uk or call 111. The 111 phone service can book you into local NHS services if needed