“We know our patients are having trouble getting through to us on the phone and making appointments, and we absolutely understand and share their frustration,” said Dr Richard Fairclough, Managing Partner at Riverside Medical Practice.
“We’re currently facing great demand for all of the care we offer at Riverside, due to patients who stayed away during the initial COVID-19 outbreak now understandably trying to get appointments for their health worries that haven’t gone away. We’re also facing the usual winter illnesses, teamed with a really busy and successful flu vaccination programme at Riverside this year.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak we usually received around 10,000 calls a month and we’re currently receiving over 40,000 attempts.
“Our fantastic 40-strong team of GPs, nurses and other allied health professionals, along with our operations team, are trying our very best to manage this huge surge in demand and are exploring all avenues to try and better meet the needs of our patients, at this time when we know so many of them have health worries.
We’re in the process of recruiting a new team of nurses and paramedics who can support us to triage telephone calls and get people the right care, at the right time. We are also recruiting to our care navigation team and have new staff starting with us this month.
“We’d like to ask all of our patients to help us over the course of the winter. Some of the ways they can do this include making repeat prescription requests in good time and using the online order service to do this, if they can.
“Other important ways they can help is by first checking the symptom advice on www.nhsinform.scot, to see if their condition can be managed through self-care at home and by seeking advice from other health professionals, for example a pharmacist.
“Remember too that there’s a lot of care you can access at Riverside without a GP appointment. Patients can self-refer for physiotherapy, minor injury assessment and mental health services: visit our website at www.theriversidepractice.co.uk to find phone numbers and call direct for assessment, rather than coming through our busy main phone line.
“All of this frees up our phone lines for patients who really need GP appointments and for those who can’t access these services online.
“This will be a tough winter for all of us, but with support from our patients we see light at the end of the tunnel, once we move into spring.”