Patient Access to Foundry and our NHS Primary Care Services

We are aware that a number of patients have experienced difficulty accessing our services, from long waiting times on the telephone to the inability to access the appointment they want. We apologise and want to reassure patients that we are continually reviewing our services and are currently exploring a number of ideas and ways to develop and improve access for all our patients.

The following is an update on our current position, what we are doing and how you can help.

 

What are the current Key issues that are impacting most on patient access to our services?
  • Reception staff shortages
  • Covid based staff absence – We continue to follow isolation guidance for NHS staff, and have had a number of staff members on sick leave as a result of their symptoms.
  • High call numbers – Receiving 120–150 per hour at peak times (Currently 8:30-10:30 Mon, Tues and Fri)
  • Restrictions with our Telephone System

 

What are we currently doing to address these Key issues?
  • Recently we have reviewed salaries for our reception team and have a recruitment drive in place. We are also implementing staff wellbeing initiatives to support and value our hardworking team.
  • We continue to following infection control guidance in all our surgeries, staff have access to masks, sanitising equipment and necessary PPE. We update staff regularly with any changes to policy.
  • Monitoring the calls we are receiving and how they are managed. Increasing staff numbers (where possible) at peak times, monitoring call numbers and seeking workable alternative routes for patients to use to offer more flexibility and ease of access.
  • We are in negotiation to appoint a new telecommunications provider, with the potential to provide options such as automated call back and direct appointment booking. As well as a robust reporting system that can track trends and behaviours, so that we can be more adaptive to the needs of our patients.

How can you help us during this time?
  • Please continue to be kind to our staff, they are all doing their best to provide care for and meet the needs of all our patients.
  • Please help keep everyone in our practices safe, continue to wear masks and sanitise your hands when attending our surgeries. Do not attend the surgery if you are symptomatic unless you have been instructed to do so.
  • For non-urgent queries and requests please consider calling at less busy times of day, use eConsult, or online appointment booking for blood tests and reviews for long term conditions. Our online service also allows you to order repeat medication and view your results, records and letters. Activating your online service account will also allow you to view more of your medical information and open up appointment booking for some services via the NHS App. You may also consider seeking advice from 111.nhs.uk or speaking to one of the local Community Pharmacists, who are highly qualified and experienced in providing advice and care for the treatment of minor injuries and illness.

What else are we doing? And how can patients work with us to improve patient access?

We have developed a working group of key members of staff to oversee, measure and review current access routes, including telephone, website, online and digital services, as well as self-referral options and face to face contacts.

We are seeking to review patient feedback more constructively, learning from the experiences of all who use our services, with the aim to ensure decision makers are well informed during stages of development and improvement.

Patients can now collaborate with us online and in surgery. Have Your Say by completing a form that lets us know of your experiences, what matters most to you and what you would like to see offered at Foundry. Get Involved by joining a patient group and be someone for us to come to for input, or sign up to be a Foundry Volunteer and assist us in providing care to the community. Stay Informed by signing up to our Patient Newsletter, follow us on social media and visit our website regularly for updates.

Currently we are asking patients to complete our Patient Access Survey, part of which includes recruitment for an Expert Patient Group who will meet with us in the near future to discuss their experiences of Patient Access.

Patients can access the survey online here or complete a form in surgery, this survey will remain open to responses until Sunday 14th August.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (04.08.2022)

 

 

 

Bird Flu

In order to avoid the risk of spreading bird flu, please take precautions if you come across a sick or dead bird, see details in the image below created by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Do not touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find due to instances of Avian Flu in the County.

If you find any dead wild birds in any location, including swans, ducks, geese, gulls, or birds of prey, please report to the DEFRA helpline: 03459 33 55 77

For further information see the ‘Cases and disease control zones’ section on GOV.UK

(04.07.22)

Message From East Sussex NHS Clinical Commissioners

Help us help you over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend

NHS services are currently extremely busy, as we continue to see a rise in demand across all health services.

There are also rising numbers of healthcare staff who are off work with COVID-19.

Together this means health services are working extremely hard to continue to provide the best possible care for those who need NHS help.

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, the NHS is asking the public to help us help you if you need help and support.

Please

  • Use the right services for your needs at the right time – pharmacies and NHS 111 are the best place to start, providing expert help and advice;
  • You can contact NHS 111 24 hours a day by dialling 111 or going online to 111.nhs.uk 24 hours a day. They can advise, support and direct you to the most appropriate service;
  • Please only go to A&E or Emergency Departments if it is a life-saving emergency;
  • Be patient and kind to our staff – they are trying to keep people safe.

If you do need help there are alternatives to coming to A&E. Our walk in and minor injury services are available to help you with:

  • Lewes Victoria Hospital Urgent Treatment Centre open 8am-8pm every day

If you need mental health support over the Bank Holiday, the Sussex Mental Healthline offers crisis care for people in urgent need of help with their mental health. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 0800 0309 500.

See more about the services open this weekend, including the pharmacies open over the weekend: Know your services – Sussex Health & Care Partnership (sussexhealthandcare.uk)

Medication Supply Issue

Foundry works collaboratively with all local community pharmacies.

We are aware that there is currently a supply issue with some medication, including short supply of HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) medications. Patients are advised that this is a manufacturing issue, and we are working with our pharmacies to find suitable alternatives to ensure patient care.

We ask that patients continue to be kind and understanding to all our colleagues who are working hard to deliver healthcare in our community.

Medicine Management Team, Foundry Healthcare Lewes (06.04.2022)

Adapting to new ways of working at Foundry

Dear Foundry Healthcare Patients

The pandemic has brought many changes and challenges, and we thank you for all your support, especially with the local uptake of the Covid Vaccination and your patience when our services have been most affected.

Despite all that has been we have continued to work on enhancing how our Primary Care Network (PCN) can keep improving on the care and facilities we are able to offer our patients, alongside our aim to ensure our staff are well supported and given opportunity to develop.

Since becoming Foundry Healthcare our PCN has expanded the workforce considerably. We now have the following offering further support to our patients:

To ensure we can best place this growing network of people, and with a new surgery building still a number of years away, we have highlighted need to repurpose parts of our surgery sites, and make some changes to our GP Teams. This is so our GP colleagues are better positioned to support one another and we can offer more collaborative care to our patients.

As such, from Monday 7th February, our School Hill site will become a hub for Specialised Medical Services, such as Dermatology, Microsuction, Sexual Health and Contraceptive Services. Note: There will be no longer be reception provision at School Hill for patients with walk in queries, access to specialist services will be by appointment only.

The remaining space will house our connected administrative teams, incl. Medicine Management, Medical Secretaries, IT and Management Teams – Offering our colleagues a supportive workplace all under one roof, with the aim to improve efficiency and communication.

Moving these admin teams will provide additional clinical rooms at our River Lodge and St Andrews sites, offering better, more accessible facilities to our patients. GPs formerly based at School Hill will move to form slightly larger GP Teams at these sites, offering more availability, and improving continuity of care.

The GPs within the new clinical teams will be based at our River Lodge, St Andrew’s and Anchor Field sites. Patients will still be registered with their ‘Usual GP’ so you will still be able to book with your preferred GP.

**Details of our new Clinical Teams can be found here on our staff pages **

All Foundry GPs will continue to provide the ‘on the day’ GP service at Lewes Victoria Hospital, where we have built excellent links, through our collaborative working, with the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) team.

We will be happy to discuss any concerns you have over the new location of your preferred/Usual GP. Please contact hwlhccg.foundryadmin@nhs.net and we will discuss the options available, and if appropriate, re-register you with a different team.

We hope this will be a beneficial step for all our patients and staff, and will enable us to deliver the best care to our community.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (03.02.2022)

Covid Vaccine Boosters – Foundry Update

Our vaccination team have been working hard this week to ensure all is in place to begin offering an increased number of Covid Booster vaccinations to all eligible adults.

All patients aged 40+ will have now received an invitation from us and from today we will be offering the opportunity to book to those 30+ – Remember our team will contact you to book.

We began offering the booster back in September, vaccinating all our local Care Home residents and staff; and the most vulnerable in our community, those over 70 and all at-risk patients 18-69years.  We have also been working through our list of house-bound patients. Throughout this time we have continued to provide our day-to-day services and successfully administered thousands of additional vaccines as part of the Flu Vaccination programme.

In light of the urgency to get the Booster vaccine to as many of our patients as possible, and with guidance from NHS England, will are suspending booking new routine appointments until the new year.

We ARE still open and seeing people. We will continue to prioritise patients via our telephone triage system and will arrange to see anyone who has clinical need.

There is a lot our patients can do to help us, and each other, at this time:  

Relating to your vaccine:
  • Do not call the surgery to ask about your vaccine. We will contact you with an invitation to book. Our phone lines and staff cannot cope with the increase in demand that these calls cause.
  • Be quick to book your vaccine when you receive your invitation. Although we have increased the number of appointments available, we anticipate that they will be booked up fast.
  • If you wish to decline or inform us that you have had your vaccine elsewhere contact our team on: E. esxccg.foundrycovidvaccineenquiries@nhs.net
  • Attend your appointment at the right time and be ready! Mask on, Arm out and where possible a smile and a thank you to our staff and volunteers (many of whom have worked extra, and long hours, to make this happen)
  • Please seek vaccine updates and information online where possible. Our website lists various local and national resources that you will find useful.
Relating to our other services
  • If you are unwell and have minor issues please consider using 111.nhs.uk or speaking to a community pharmacist before contacting the surgery.
  • Use eConsult, our digital consultation service. Submitting your symptoms in this way, keeps the phone lines free for those without digital means and assists us in getting patients seen by the right person for them.
  • Be prepared. Ensure you are ready when calling the surgery and ahead of any consultation. Arrive on time to appointments, wear a mask (unless exempt) and use our intercom to gain access. You may be asked to wait outside if we have a number of patients attending at once – make sure to dress appropriately.
Above all we ask that you:
  • Be Kind. Appreciate our staff, be respectful and understanding. They are here to help you.

(15.12.2021)

Message to our patients – update on the COVID-19 booster programme

Across Sussex the NHS and its partners are working extremely hard to roll out the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme to our communities.

All adults are eligible from Monday 13 December, and you will be able to book via the National Booking System from Wednesday 15 December.

You can book your booster for 3 months from the date of second vaccine, and you can access the National Booking System to book the appointment from 2 months.

The NHS is working at pace to increase the availability of appointments so that there are plenty of options for people on the National Booking System. Some local vaccination services will also contact patients directly.

New appointments are being added every day across these vaccination services. The NHS have been offering more than 80,000 appointments a week and in the last two weeks have increased the number of available appointments by more than 10,000 a week. Further availability will come online from Wednesday 15 December.

They will be working with all of vaccination sites to take further steps to increase what can be offered again, including opening later and on more days.

All of these appointments will be added to the National Booking System and so we encourage everyone who is aged 18 and over, is yet to have their booster and who is approaching 3 months from your second vaccine to use the National Booking System to arrange your appointment when you are able to do so.

In terms of any planned appointments with Foundry Healthcare, there are no changes at the current time and everyone should attend your planned appointments as normal. If we need to make any changes, we will contact you directly.

See more about the vaccination programme in Sussex, including the vaccination services: COVID-19 vaccinations – Sussex Health & Care Partnership (sussexhealthandcare.uk)

(13.12.2021)

Click here for information on the Covid Vaccination Programme at Foundry

Foundry Response to recent media coverage surrounding Primary Healthcare and GP Services

Dear Patients

You may be aware of the ongoing media attention surrounding GP services, alongside the recent guidance issued by NHS England.

We have highlighted a number of points below that we have seen raised and offer a response to each so that you are aware of what this means for us at Foundry and for you as a patient accessing our services.


Offering patients the choice of a face to face appointment when they book

In the same way we did prior to the pandemic, we will continue to triage calls to ensure they are directed to the right Clinician within the appropriate timeframe. Face to face appointments where appropriate continue to be available but are not finite, so our system ensures that, using the brief information you give us when you call, we can prioritise your appointment.

We offer a number of Face to Face pre-bookable appointments. This is carefully planned to ensure we endeavour to meet the demands within the access available to us on each day. We encourage patients with ongoing conditions that do not require immediate attention to wait for an appointment with the GP who knows them. Patients who contact us and require on the day treatment are therefore more likely to access the care they need. However again this is not a finite number and the demand does outweigh the capacity. You may be asked to attend on another day or access healthcare from your local Pharmacy or be redirected to 111.

Access for GPs to a national cloud based telephone system to speed up call answering

We do have a cloud based telephony system which allows us to monitor activity and rota staff to maximise capacity for answering calls at our busiest times. We constantly review this service as we do know this can be a cause of frustration for patients.

Note: Patients can also assist us in reducing call wait times. For example; by preparing information ahead of calling or by trying our eConsult online service to request an appointment or submit administrative queries, find out more about how you can help us to help you here.

Access to a £250 million fund which can be used by GPs for extra staff, new equipment, extending opening hours

We have been actively expanding our workforce since the merge of the three surgeries. We have recruited new GPs and plan to recruit more, but there is a national shortage affecting this process. However we do already have a large pool of Clinicians at Foundry Healthcare already working alongside our GPs, including Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Paramedics, Musculoskeletal Practitioners, Clinical Pharmacists, Registrars and Practice Nurses. We also have Social Prescribers and Coordinators for Care Homes and Dementia patients. We will be adding two full time Coordinators, specialising in mental health to our team soon. We welcome additional funding to expand our workforce and eagerly await more information in this regard.

A zero tolerance approach to abuse as staff have been facing abuse and this cannot be tolerated

Retaining frontline staff has been difficult in the current circumstances. We do have new reception staff in role and more starting very soon but their job requires extensive training and it takes time for them to be confident in their new positions. We therefore welcome the governments support with reminding patients to be respectful and kind.

Opening up pharmacies so they can often be the first point of contact for minor ailments

Foundry Healthcare Lewes is one of the first practices in the area to pilot a scheme commencing 22nd November 2021. This will enable us to refer patients to the local Pharmacies for an appointment for a consultation with a Clinical Pharmacist on a large list of minor ailments. More information on this to follow.

Removing bureaucracy from GPs by allowing other health care professionals to complete fit notes and DVLA checks

A sensible decision to free up valuable GP time

Reducing social distancing measures which have prevented people entering the surgery

The safety of our patients and staff will remain at the heart of any changes we make in this regard. We have carefully looked at the guidance from The World Health Organisation which states that physical distancing of at least one metre remains a key infection prevention and control intervention to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. Patients will continue to be required to wear a face covering if attending a face-to-face consultation unless exempt. Patients with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or influenza should telephone the surgery before attending an appointment.

Due to the layout and size of our waiting areas we will need to continue with some limitation on the number of patients we can accommodate in the building so you may find the door is shut at certain times of day and that the intercom system will remain in use for announcing your arrival.


We hope that this information gives some insight into the situation we currently face and offers an update on some of our practice developments.  Further updates will follow.

We thank all our patient for their continued support.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (27.10.2021)

A Challenge We Face Together

A short summary of the current situation in Foundry and what we are doing about it

By Dr. Phil Wallek, Clinical Director


Many of us will have seen recent reports in the national media describing the extremely challenging situation that primary care finds itself in, epitomised by frustrating waits to get an appointment. Here are just some of the reasons why this is.

We are:

  • Dealing with major surges in Covid infections whilst closely monitoring those at risk who do not need to go hospital
  • Making sure Covid patients are seen in a safe environment to avoid transmission to other patients and staff – and coping with much reduced capacity in waiting rooms
  • Rolling out the Covid vaccination programme from scratch, mobilising significant resources and people week in, week out
  • Seeing patients who have held off contacting the surgery for the past 18 months who are now attending with multiple and often complex medical issues
  • Managing a surge in other viral infections normally seen in winter periods as lockdown ended and schools returned, spreading infections between children and their relatives & friends
  • An additional backlog caused by 18 months of severely reduced routine chronic disease clinics, further exacerbated by a surge in prescription queries
  • Supporting patients whilst they wait for hospital appointments – waiting lists that are at an all-time high
  • Responding to an significant increase in mental health conditions caused directly and indirectly by the pandemic
  • Managing ongoing staff illness and periods of self-isolation due to Covid

This unique set of challenges has created huge and increasing pressure in the system. A ‘perfect storm’ made worse by reception colleagues trying to help angry and frustrated patients, often leading to double or triple average call times (and so further lengthening wait times!).

Furthermore, unsurprisingly, clinical staff have been spending more time with each patient as they manage increasingly complex issues made worse by the strains of the pandemic.

Staff levels of stress have risen exponentially as they are left trying to manage very difficult situations, sometimes without precedent, and suffering daily abuse and criticism from a significant minority of patients.

So, given all that, what’s the good news?

It’s not all doom and gloom! Despite all these pressures we ARE managing in Foundry, and we are winning the battle against Covid, and all the terrible problems it has thrown-up, one patient at a time. Foundry is made of strong stuff – colleagues who care deeply about our community, willing to do what it takes to get us through.

And let’s not forget you – the people who need our help day after day. So many of you have dealt with the Covid catastrophe with resilience and good humour – we are encouraged and inspired by your patience and willingness to bear the stress, and too often the sadness caused by the loss of loved ones. We also appreciate the countless thank-yous and understanding throughout the last 18 months. Thank YOU.

Furthermore Covid has encouraged new and innovative ways of working – for example online appointments and video calls have enabled access to healthcare services to continue even at times even when many staff have had to work from home. On top of which new expert roles have joined the Foundry team to offer an extended range of services – thank you pharmacists, paramedics, social prescribers, physiotherapists and care coordinators. You are wonderful, committed people who have risen to the challenge without fail.

As a community we can work together to support each other through Covid. Individuals can access a wide range of resources from healthcare, social care and the voluntary sector to support themselves and each other during these challenging times. Signposting information about how best to access our services and get support, alongside advice on how you can help, is available on our website.

The changes we have been making throughout the last 18 months have met the Covid challenge – and shown us new ways and means to offer a better, more comprehensive service for the future. We are determined to learn from these experiences and evolve our ways of working accordingly.

Please let me reassure you that although we realise things are difficult right now for us all, both patients and those offering healthcare, we believe we can and will win through and be stronger and more resilient as a result. It’s a journey – thank you for bearing with us.

Please know every single Foundry colleague cares deeply about your health and wellbeing and is committed to giving you the best possible care.

(Posted 24.09.2021)

Update on global shortage of blood tests equipment

What it means for patients

A supplier to the NHS has advised us of a global shortage of some equipment used for taking blood tests.

Anyone who needs a test for urgent health problems, will still get one but where your clinician recommends that it’s safe to do so, then you may be asked to come back for a test at a later date, or your appointment may be rescheduled.

Given the nature of the shortage, we cannot give an exact date for when the test will be rescheduled, but please be assured that if your condition or symptoms require it, then you will get a test, and we will be re-booking your test when supplies become more easily available.

If your condition or symptoms change or get worse, please contact the NHS as you would normally.

(19.08.21)

Announcement to temporarily close our School Hill site on Fridays

We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure we provide the best possible service to all our patients.

You will be aware that we are currently experiencing considerable staffing issues and this is affecting the level of the service we are able to deliver consistently across all our sites.  We eagerly await a purpose built building to accommodate all our Lewes based activity but unfortunately that is still some years away.

We have therefore taken the decision to temporarily close our School Hill site on Fridays, which is the day of the week most affected by staff shortages and move the Doctors, Nurses and Receptionists to our other sites. 

This decision allows us to continue to safely provide the same number of appointments but will ease some of the pressure on our teams.  It does mean that some patients may be asked to attend their appointment at one of our other sites in Lewes; at River Lodge, Malling Street or St Andrew’s, Southover Road, and on the odd occasion at our Anchor Field site in Ringmer.

We do apologise for the inconvenience this may cause some patients and appreciate your understanding and patience during this prolonged period of exceptional pressure on general practice.

We will continue to keep you updated with how this works out for our patients and welcome your feedback in this regard.

Please note this does mean we are unable to accept samples or paperwork at our School Hill site on Fridays.  Please take to either River Lodge or St Andrew’s.

This TEMPORARY site closure will ONLY affect our School Hill site, and ONLY on Fridays, with immediate effect from Friday 23rd July 2021.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (20.07.21)

Update - National Data Opt Out (GPDPR)

All GPs nationally received a General Practice Data for Research and Planning (GPDPR) update letter yesterday from Jo Churchill, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Primary Care and Health Promotion.

The letter confirms further engagement will be sought and assurance that tougher safeguards will be in place ahead of GP data collection, which will no longer take place on 1st September.

We welcome the planned production of a national campaign to inform patients clearly as what GPDPR is, how and why patient data will be used for Planning and Research, and how patients can make an informed decision as to how their data is used.

The letter has been published on the NHS Digital website here.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (20.07.21)

Statement following the announcement to lift restrictions on Monday 19th July

With the rising number of cases, the increase in staff shortages due to the impact of the virus, and for the safety of our vulnerable patients and staff, we have made the decision to continue with the measures we have in place that are designed to control the spread of Covid-19 in our practices.

We ask that patients continue to:

  • Wear a mask when attending the surgery
  • Only attend the surgery if it is truly necessary to do so
  • Drop prescriptions / handwritten notes into the surgery letterboxes
  • Use the intercom to inform staff they have arrived
  • Wait to be called into the surgery by a member of staff before entering a practice
  • Be patient, as only a limited number will be permitted into the surgeries at a time
  • Use the hand sanitiser provided
  • Adhere to the 1m+ ruling
Our clinical staff will continue to wear the appropriate PPE during clinics.
 
We ask that patients do not attend the surgery if they:
  • Have any symptoms of Covid-19
  • Have received a positive test result for Covid-19 in the last 10 days
  • Have had known contact with someone who has tested positive and are awaiting a test appointment or the result of a test for Covid-19
We thank you all for your continued patience, support and assistance in keeping our practices safe for all.
 
Foundry Healthcare Lewes (15.07.2021)

National Data Opt-Out - Media Coverage 

We have had a number of patients contact us regarding the recent media coverage on the National Data Opt-Out.

We apologise that at present we cannot offer a full statement, as we are currently awaiting an update from our local NHS Healthcare Commissioning Group. We will offer a further update to patients following a meeting planned with them this week.

In the meantime, we would suggest patients seek advice and information directly from NHS Digital and view our existing Privacy Notice for information relating to our use of patient data, as well as details on the types of ‘opt-outs’ available.

If you have read our Privacy Notice and wish to register a Type 1 Opt-Out*, our main phone line now allows you to leave a message with your request. Please call 01273 480888 and choose Option 5, we ask that you leave your name, date of birth, NHS Number (if known) and a contact telephone number.

*Note: this is different to the National Data Opt-Out which cannot be registered through the practice. Patients wishing to do so should visit NHS Digital

We thank you for your patience regarding this matter.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (08.06.2021)

UPDATE - National Data Opt-Out - Mass GP data extraction delayed to September

Further to our earlier statement:

Health Minister Jo Churchill MP has just advised the House of Commons, in response to an oral question from Robert Largan MP, Conservative MP for High Peak, that the GPDPR programme implementation date has been moved back to 1 September 2021 to allow “more time to talk to patients, Drs, and other stakeholders”

The excerpt above was taken from an article released online by Pulse, it can be read in full here.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (08.06.2021 @ 14:28)

Statement to Patients

We do listen and we do value your feedback.  We hear your frustrations and understand the difficulties you have found when accessing our services.  However please be assured we continue to endeavour to provide a patient-centred service in spite of resource limitations and a national pandemic.  We do ask however, that your feedback is constructive and kind.  It has been a tough year for everyone.

In response to some of the specific concerns we have heard raised:

“The service we provide has been affected by the merge of the surgeries, it has been a cost-cutting exercise that has resulted in a worse service than before:”

The merge of the three surgeries has meant we have improved access to NHS funding, which is being made available under the new Primary Care Network contract.  So rather than being a cost cutting exercise and a reduction in staffing levels, we have in fact invested to increase our workforce in the last year to include; two additional administrative staff, two additional GPs, two Clinical Pharmacists and a Pharmacy Technician, a Reception Manager, a Communications Officer, Two First Contact Practitioners who specialise in Musculoskeletal conditions, and two additional Care-Coordinators.  We are also planning to employ a Mental Health Practitioner in the very near future.

However, irrespective of the merge, it is important to note that we too have been affected by the pandemic.  Fortunately the safety measures we have put in place in the workplace meant that only a very few members of staff contracted the virus.  However, many at some point during the last year had to work from home or isolate or shield because of the virus.  This has meant an unprecedented year of staff absences, which has affected the service we have been able to provide.  Often we have worked long hours, weekends and bank holidays to cover for our colleagues and minimise the impact on the service we provide.

Often throughout this last year and specifically at present, community services such as District Nurses, Health Visitors and Mental Health Practitioners have been unable to provide a full service, so our team have taken on additional work to cover their shortfall to reduce the impact to our patients as well as providing support when hospital appointments have been cancelled or operations delayed. This has been possible because of the merge of the surgeries and our ability to pool our clinical resources more efficiently but has inevitably impacted on the service we provide.  We are only human and there are only so many waking hours in the days.

 


“Long wait times on the phone”

The pressure and increase in demand on GP services is not unique to us, it is a national issue being reported by many practices.  Evidence from NHS digital shows that GP practices are receiving a 20% increase in calls compared to this time last year. Patients have held back during the pandemic and are coming forward with expectations on the service to resume to ‘normal’.  Secondary care services are still working their way through their back log, which means patients waiting for hospital appointments are coming back to us.  Our staff (who lost bank holidays last year and carried holiday over to assist with the Pandemic) are now, quite rightly, taking much needed leave.   Since December 2020 we have been running a completely new, additional service delivering the covid-19 vaccine to our practice population. Staff are working six and sometimes seven days a week.

We are currently in the process of recruiting admin staff to replace some who have recently left and we do sincerely apologise for the impact on our phone lines.  We have recently introduced an e-consult service which we encourage patients to use to request advice and treatment from the practice as an efficient alternative to waiting for the phone the be answered.  More information can be found here.

We will also re-introduce access to appointments via our online booking service very soon.  See our Online Services for further information.

These measures will help to reduce the number of calls being made to the surgery and the length of time you may have to wait for your call to be answered.  In the meantime, we are monitoring the calls and endeavouring to ensure maximum staff are made available at peak call times.  If your call is not urgent we request you try and avoid calling during the first few hours of the day.

The British Medical Association have released this press release regarding the national issue.


“There is only one telephone number”

This was a cost saving decision because we are one business and it did not make sense to pay for three telephone contracts.  However, we have purchased a new telephone system with additional phone lines and the number of people answering the phone has not decreased (except on days when staff sickness was unexpected).  So although hearing you are 40th in the queue is alarming, there are at least 8 people answering the phone and up to 16 staff at our peak times.  They really are doing their best to get to your call as quickly as possible and we monitor calls regularly to try and work out what is causing the delays.

The new phone system provides us with reporting and the facility to listen to calls for the purpose of reviewing the service we provide.  Work is ongoing analysing the reports to inform our recruitment process.

 


“Why can’t I have a face to face consultation with my Doctor?”

Throughout the pandemic we have continued to offer a service from 8am to 8pm seven days a week.  This had to be delivered differently, in accordance with the ever-changing guidelines, to ensure we kept our staff and patients safe.  The low infection rates in the Lewes are testimony to how well we are doing this.

Phone or video consultations have made up the majority for patient contact, with face to face contact were clinically indicated.  We understand your reservations regarding the effectiveness of a phone or video consultation, it has been a learning curve and new experience for us too. However, it has proven to be extremely affective and we will continue to use these methods for patient contact where appropriate.

See this BMA article from Sept 20′ – New ways of working but GP practices still open, protecting and caring

 


“The surgery has been privatised”

Please be assured we are very much an entirely NHS organisation and nothing has changed in this regard.

 


“My old surgery was much better”

We are still here.  The merge of the surgeries has meant we have been able to improve continuity of care for those patients with an ongoing condition by ensuring their regular GP or a member of their small team contacts them.  For those patients who need access to our services more urgently we have increased “on the day” access by moving GPs to the Urgent treatment centre where they work alongside the Advance Nurse Practitioners who have the expertise to treat minor ailments and injuries.

 


“The staff don’t care”

This could not possibly be further from the truth. We are proud of the caring attitude our staff demonstrate. We are all human and on occasion our staff are on the receiving end of some quite inappropriately hostile behaviour. It is disheartening to read that some have had the experiences they have, especially when we have all been working so hard to provide services to our patients, in what has been some of the most exceptional circumstances.

We welcome your feedback but request that this is delivered in a constructive and kind way.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (11.05.2021)

** Covid Vaccination Programme **

All information regarding our Covid-19 Vaccination programme can be found by following the link below to our dedicated Covid-19 vaccine website page.

We are asking that patients refrain from calling and emailing the surgery asking about the vaccine. Our staff are incredibly busy, with both the vaccine rollout and dealing with our usual daily enquires/bookings. Our resources and phone lines need to be kept clear for those most at need.

Do be reassured that you will be contacted when it is your turn for the vaccine.

The website is being updated regularly, so please continue to check here.

Covid-19 Vaccine Programme

Calls to the Surgery - Recent Difficulties

We would like to apologise to those patients who have experienced a longer than usual wait for a response when calling the surgery recently.

There have been a number of issues that have impacted on our resources and affected this service and we are addressing all of these as efficiently as possible, to improve the situation . This includes offering e-consultations, re-introducing appointment booking online and recruitment of staff.

We do value your feedback and appreciate your patience.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (27.04.21)

Introducing eConsult

We are now offering online consultations through eConsult.

Whether it’s an appointment you need, general advice, self-help or an administrative query, we would like you to complete a quick online consultation so we have all the information we need to address your needs and arrange the appropriate care and advice.

See here for further information and instruction on how to start your eConsult today.

(14.04.2021)

 

Covid Vaccination update: Patients age 45yrs+

Patients aged 45+ can now book their vaccine via the National Booking Service. This is for vaccination at one of the larger vaccination sites or pharmacy.

GP led vaccination sites, like Foundry, are waiting on further instruction from the JCVI before they can begin offering these patients vaccination at their sites.

Please be assured, we will contact you should we be instructed to begin inviting patients in this group.

(13.04.21)

Update: Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of a very rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

The problem can also happen in people who have not been vaccinated and it’s not yet clear why it affects some people.

The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus.

If you have already had your vaccination, there is no change to your planned second dose unless you had had significant side effects with the first dose.

Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:

  • a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
  • a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
  • a headache that’s unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
  • a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain

If you are due your second dose vaccination, you will be contacted by our vaccination team as you approach the 12 mark since your first vaccination to arrange your appointment.

Please do not contact us unless you are concerned that you have gone passed the 12 week mark from your first vaccination.

For people under 30 without other health conditions, it’s currently advised that it’s preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected, but an alternative to AZ will be made available to you by the NHS.

You may wish to go ahead with the AZ vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you.

The NHS will contact you when it is your turn to receive your vaccination.

Statement regarding those newly added to the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable/Shielded Patient Lists

We have received notice that the NHS has added 1.7million people nationally to the list of those considered Clinically Extremely Vulnerable to complications from Covid-19 (also known as the Shielded Patient List). If you have been added this was through central NHS identification rather than by us as a GP surgery.

Those newly added will receive a letter from the government notifying them. We will be able to offer newly-added patients vaccination against Covid-19 as a priority. Please do not contact us about this. We will identify you directly from government lists and invite you in as soon as we have supply of vaccine and appointment availability.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (18.02.2021)

Vaccination Priority Group Update 15th February 2021

Following an update from NHS England, GP lead vaccination sites are now to start inviting Clinically Vulnerable patients in Groups 5 and 6, patients with conditions aged 16-69 years.

Those patients in Group 5, 65-69 years, who have no underlying health conditions are encouraged to accept invitation to attend one of the mass vaccination sites. These patients can book their vaccine direct though the national booking service or by calling 119. 

This decision has been made nationally as a GP lead vaccine site is better suited to identify those patients who are clinically vulnerable.

The conditions which warrant inclusion in Group 6 are those with:

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma* (read on for definition)
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome and aged between 16 and 18
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • specific cancers

 

  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • no spleen and those with splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity (BMI of more than 40)
  • severe mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and those under the regular care of a psychiatrist.

Further information can be found here

Group 6 also includes those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person, someone who has a severe mental illness or whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

The surgery has made a list of all those patients we believe to be in group 6. If you are in this group you should have received a SMS starting you have been identified for this group and will soon be invited to book your appointment. You do not need to take any further action until you receive your vaccination invitation which will likely come by SMS.

*Severe asthma is defined, for the purposes of vaccination, as anybody who has had more than 2 exacerbations of asthma requiring treatment with swallowed steroids in the past year or any patient who has ever been admitted to hospital as a result of asthma. Please note this means those who were kept in on a ward rather than being treated in A+E before discharge. If this does apply please contact us using the email address below and be as specific as you can regarding the dates of your hospitalisation.

If you believe, having read the criteria, that you have one of the conditions listed and should be in group 6 but have not received a SMS please email esxccg.foundrycovidvaccineenquiries@nhs.net.

Include your name, date of birth, and your clinical details. We will respond as soon as possible but this may take some time as we have a huge number of enquiries. Please try to avoid phoning the surgery with vaccination enquiries.

Foundry Healthcare Lewes (15.02.2021)

GP Patient Survey - 2021

Some patients registered at this GP practice will soon be invited to take part in a national survey about their experiences of local NHS services.

It covers issues that concern patients, such as access to care and satisfaction with treatment.

If you receive a questionnaire, please help NHS England by filling it in as soon as possible.

It is really important that we hear your views, even if you have received a questionnaire like this before. Your response will help us to improve GP practices and other local NHS services so they better meet your needs.

Follow the link below for further information, including our results for last year (2020).

 

GP Patient Survey

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