Patient Update – Appointment Availability

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We know our patients will be aware from all of the media coverage that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has generated unprecedented pressure on NHS services.  Primary care services (which are those provided by Lancaster Medical Practice) have significantly felt the impact of these pressures.

We are aware that many of our patients followed the message put forward at the beginning of the pandemic and have delayed contacting NHS services.  The result of this is that clinical problems have now ‘built up’ over the course of the pandemic and have created a significant backlog of work presenting to General Practice.

Demand on our appointments is consequently at an unprecedented level, which we have never seen before.

In addition, as winter approaches we are seeing a significant increase in the number of patients with Covid related symptoms seeking our help, including those with ‘Long Covid’ symptoms. We are also seeing a large increase in the number of patients, particularly children, with respiratory type illness.  On top of this we are continuing to care for our patients with long term conditions, helping our patients to ensure they receive their repeat medications and issue fit notes to those patients who are currently not able to work.  Alongside this, we are delivering a full programme for both COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, with almost 80,000 vaccines delivered to date.

Our staff have and continue to, work relentlessly throughout the ongoing pandemic.  As an organisation, we have had to manage the regular periods of self-isolation staff have had to observe, in line with the government regulations for NHS staff.  This means that we regularly face workforce shortages whilst staff observe this isolation, putting further pressure on our already stretched services.

The safety of our patients and staff is our overwhelming priority.  To achieve this we have to provide safe and effective clinical care, which means that we need to be realistic about the workload constraints in our practice. 

Many of our colleagues in General Practice now operate an ‘on the day only’ service.  Here at Lancaster Medical Practice, we are also continuing to offer planned care appointments, for our patients with long term conditions and those who need continuity of care from our clinicians.   

To do this, we will continue to ensure we provide a safe, efficient and equitable service to our patients, in line with their needs.  This might mean some patients need to wait a little longer for an appropriate appointment with the right clinician for them.

We would politely ask for your patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.  We recognise and share some of our patient’s frustrations with these challenges and remind you of the importance of remaining respectful and kind to our staff who are working extremely hard to accommodate your needs.

Thank you.

From the Partners of Lancaster Medical Practice.