'Must GP patients die to get cash?' - central Weston surgery struggling to cope with more patients
PUBLISHED: 07:21 22 November 2019 | UPDATED: 07:23 22 November 2019
Patients 'might have to start dying' before health provisions at a central Weston GP surgery improves, according to its patient participation group (PPG) chairman.
Graham Road Surgery now houses 12,500 patients following the closure of nearby Clarence Park Surgery in September.
Its patient lists merged but concerns over whether Graham Road would be able to cope with an influx of new patients were raised as early as June.
The following month, the surgery was given £1.4million of NHS emergency capital funding as it was 'struggling to cope' with more patients.
At the time, Dr John Heather from the Pier Health Group, said 'some patients are not being seen', adding 'it is a mess but we have to work harder'.
Graham Road patient Kathryn Horner has severe asthma and had been out of breath, wheezing and coughing for several days when she sought an appointment.
Her condition requires her to be supplied with a prescription of emergency steroid tablets and antibiotics in respect of chest infections.
She said: "How many lives are their ineffective services putting in danger?
"On November 11, I tried repeatedly to phone the surgery, to no avail, it was always engaged.
"The only way to get an appointment is to stand outside from 7.30am, you are not even allowed to wait in the waiting room from 7.45am, as had been the case at Clarence Park.
"Even after the wait, if you are even well enough to stand out in all weathers, you are not guaranteed an appointment.
"On Friday, I again tried to telephone Graham Road and for more than 20 minutes listened to a recorded message. That time scale is totally unacceptable.
"It is only a matter of time before lives are lost through the inadequacy of the surgery, if that has not happened already."
PPG chairman Laurie Fineman, in a response to Karthryn, said: "As things stand, Pier Health Group, which runs health services at the site, has expressed its recognition of how serious the problems are, and made statements giving the PPG hope that significant improvements will soon be apparent to all patients, yet very little has actually happened.
"Although the clinical commissioning group (CCG) has raised some monies, including some ostensibly for taking emergency action towards a new medical centre, not a penny has been spent or preliminary actions taken that the patients of Graham Road have recognised and raised with me as real improvements.
"Perhaps we have to wait for Graham Road patients to start dying of preventable ailments and their families to take named individuals to court, to get things moving."
A spokesman for the CCG said: "Pier Health Group stepped in to take on the running of Graham Road in June this year, and staff have been working hard to enhance patient services at the surgery.
"We take patient feedback seriously, and recognise there is more work to do around access to appointments.
"As part of planned improvements, Graham Road Surgery will be launching the AskmyGP online consultation system in the coming weeks. AskMyGP has proved successful in other parts of Weston, with excellent feedback from local patients.
"It has helped to take pressure off phone lines, and many more people have benefitted from same-day support as a result.
"We will continue to work closely with Pier Health Group in the coming months, to ensure high-quality and accessible GP services for everyone in the area."