The company that has taken over running of Banbury’s Horsefair Surgery has defended its continuing efforts to improve services.
Integral Medical Holdings Ltd (IMH) responded to a raft of complaints on social media and emailed to the Banbury Guardian.
IMH says it is taking measures to address issues it says it interited after the last three GPs left at the end of June.
Reader Peter Stephenson said: “I finally got an appointment by turning up in reception and making it plain I needed help and wasn’t going away.”
He outlined his experience of trying to get through on the phone: “I made 80-odd attempts in 30 minutes and failed even to get on their queueing system.
“There were no daily appointments available once through; aggressive use of receptionist triage; restriction to one ailment per visit which is difficult if symptoms are complex and no long-term appointments available for four weeks.”
Mr Stephenson said there was no way to form a relationship with a single doctor for a complex set of problems and that Horsefair was relying almost totally on locums.
He complained there was no apparent system for call backs for test results or on receipt of hospital reports.
Many patients on social media said they had tried to move surgeries to be told they could not if they were already registered with a practice.
Patient Jenna Thompson said: “I recently had to wait a week to even be able to talk to a doctor over the phone and when I did she was asking me questions about a letter that should have been on my notes, although all the letters are sent addressed to my old GP who has now obviously left but which I was not notified about.
“It makes me really anxious that there is no continuity in my treatment.”
Richard Power, Chief Executive Officer of IMH said action was being taken to improve the situation.
He said: “The practice has been working on efficiency allowing it to deliver sustainable patient access.
“We are aware there are issues with the telephone lines. There are currently four staff members dedicated to answering calls and the practice is looking to recruit a further call handler.
“The practice offers both on-the-day and pre-bookable appointments for both GPs and advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs) up to four weeks in advance.”
Mr Power said the waiting time for pre-bookable GP appointments is 1.5 weeks – ahead of the national average. On top of these, urgent on-the-day and telephone appointments are available.
The surgery has recruited a practice manager, a lead GP, two ANPs, two other GPs and is interviewing another GP, he said.
“Where locums are used, the practice is using the same locums to give continuity of care,” he said.
“The practice operates 15 minute slots (most practices operate ten minute appointments).
“Through implementing the NHSE five year forward view skill mix, complex conditions are getting more time with the GP.
“It is important for call handlers to understand patient need so they ensure people are booked with the appropriate clinician.”