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Spring newsletter

Welcome to our Spring newsletter – we hope all of our patients are enjoying the lighter nights and slightly warmer weather, just as we are. Here’s an overview of our news from the past three months – printed copies of this newsletter will also available to read in our waiting room and in local community hubs soon.

Do please share this newsletter with your friends, family and colleagues, by clicking the social media links below.

Team news – meet our new GP

We’re delighted that Dr Cameron Kennedy is joining the Practice on a permanent basis from August 2023. Dr Kennedy was our ‘ST3’ (fully qualified doctor in final year of three-year GP training) here in 2022-2023. We’re always pleased when a doctor stays with us after completing their training programme with us and think it sends a strong message that this is a good place to work.

We’re also delighted that Dr Michael Slowey, a GP with us here for almost three years, has been offered a GP Partnership at another Practice. Dr Slowey will be with us until June 2023 and our congratulations go to him, along with our thanks for the excellent care he’s provided to patients during his time here.

We continue to have welcome support from our long-term locum GPs while Dr Magee and Dr Ruthven remain on maternity leave. We look forward to welcoming them both back in summer 2023. Dr Henderson will go on maternity leave around the same time – there’s definitely something in the water here!

Independent review – read our final progress report

We recently published our final report on our progress against the 17 recommendations made by the independent review team in September 2022.

Of the 15 recommendations assigned to Riverside to lead on, we’ve:

  • completed 10
  • changed one with agreement of the review chair
  • are progressing well with the remaining four

Post review, we believe it’s now clearer to everyone that we and the East Lothain Health and Social Care Partnership (ELHSCP) share responsibility for the care of Riverside patients, and that appointments should be provided by both parties. We thank ELHSCP for acknowledging this shared responsibility in our joint statement of March 2023, and also their recognition that – despite this joint responsibility – patient frustration over recent years has been primarily directed at Riverside.

In this situation where responsibility for patient care is shared, being at the forefront of criticism has inevitably impacted morale among our dedicated, hardworking team. We thank each and every one of them for continuing to work here with us, providing such expert care to the people of Musselburgh.

We encourage patients to read our final report: there are also copies in our main waiting room. The report includes details of our priority areas over the coming months.

Cover of report

Update on masks and face coverings

NHS Lothian has published new guidance outlining that patients and clinicians no longer need to routinely wear masks in healthcare settings to avoid transmission of Covid-19, from 16 May . 

If you’d like to wear a mask while you’re in the Practice you’re very welcome to do so – please do bring your own mask.

Some of our clinicians may choose to wear a mask during appointments, and we ask that you’re supportive of their choice to do this.  

New phone system

Our new phone system went live on 1 March 2023, after consultation with patients. Thank you to all the patients who took the time to share feedback after it went live – this has ranged from ‘excellent’ through to the lower end of the scale. Patients who called us and entered the new queue system have really welcomed the new call flow and messaging. If our phonelines and queue are full you now hear an engaged tone (instead of the system automatically cutting you off after hearing a series of messages as it used to do) and some patients said they also found this frustrating, albeit in a different way.

The phone system – in terms of the technology we’re using, messaging and call flow – is now in line with what other local Practices have in place and we believe is broadly as good as we can make it. But we’ve always said that phone systems don’t fix access problems. Increasing capacity (both clinical and administrative) fixes access problems – but we can only do this within the limits of the resources we have available to us, and our clinical and administrative teams are already fully staffed.

Improving efficiency (so we can free up as much GP and call handler time as possible) can also contribute to improvements in access and capacity, as can improving our communications so patients have the information they need to call the right person, at the right time – which may not be their GP. We continue to work hard on both our efficiency and ‘signposting’ and you’ll see some examples of this later in this newsletter.

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About the Practice

One of the suggestions made in the independent review was that we make more information about the Practice, its history and the way it’s set up available to patients.

We’ve now added a more comprehensive ‘about us’ page to our website and hope patients find this useful.

We want to be the best that we can be. We’re committed to making any and every change we can for patients, which we believe it’s in our power to do

Riverside and ELHSCP joint care - graphic

New Patient Panel up and running

Our longstanding Patient Participation Group (PPG) stepped down in February 2023, and we thank all PPG members past and present for their hard work, and support of the Practice and Practice team.

Patient engagement is really important to us: we want to hear your views about what’s working well and where there are areas we can improve – so we can act on these, where possible. It’s also important to have a group of patients who we can consult and involve in any service design changes.

We’ve taken advice from other local PPGs and Healthcare Improvement Scotland about how to best set up a new patient group, and were delighted in April to welcome members of our new ‘Patient Panel’ to the Practice for an introductory session. We also engage with patients in a lot of other ways, for example by asking for your feedback on things, and via the formal complaints process.

New sickline extension request form

We’ve recently streamlined our process for sicklines, to help our clinical and admin teams complete these as efficiently as possible.

For the first 7 days you’re off work
Please self-certify.

For the first sickline you need after that
Please call us to book an appointment, so you can discuss your request with a GP or nurse specialist.

To request a sickline extension and for sicklines for planned time off work we’ve been notified about (for example an operation)
Please fill in our new sickline request form – you can continue to request these at the front desk or over the phone if you need to though.

We can only complete sicklines from the day you’re due to be off work and will backdate sicklines as needed. Please only fill in the form 1-2 days beforehand, or we won’t be able to process your request. Sicklines take up to 10 working days to complete and can be collected at Reception after this time.

New pilot project – online review for anti-depressant and anxiety medication

We’ve just started a pilot project, to test whether we can reduce the number of patients who take common medications to help with depression or anxiety who get the medication as an ‘acute’ or special request medication.

We’re doing this by texting appropriate patients (who are happy with their medication) and asking them to complete an online medication review form. If the review is completed satisfactorily we may then be able to move the medication to your repeat prescriptions.

This will save time for our clinical and administrative teams, and mean patients can order it more easily.

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Your feedback this quarter

Here’s a sample of the feedback we’ve had recently.

If you send in suggestions which we don’t think we can put in place, we always want to let you know why.

This quarter someone asked if we can use computer check-in, to help avoid any queues at Reception.

This is a great idea but unfortunately challenging because we’re in a shared building. Putting a check-in screen outside in the mall increases the risk of it being damaged, and Receptionists would still need to buzz people in. If we put a device in the main waiting room there’d be an increased risk to staff safety, as we’d need to have the door into the Practice open on a permanent basis, to allow people to enter and check in.

Someone else asked if we could make appointments between 8am and 9am available to book the day before.

They wondered if it was too soon for people calling first thing to book an appointment to get down to the Practice for 8-9am, and if these appointments were wasted as a result.

We thought this was a great point to cover in our newsletter! Not all of a GP’s time each day is spent providing appointments. The time between 8 and 9am is a busy one for GPs, who have test results to review which have come back for their patients, emails from colleagues in secondary care to respond to and much more. GPs also fulfil prescription requests at this time. We process around 1,000 medication requests a day at the Practice, and these are divided up each morning for GPs to complete.

In April 2023 we received one formal complaint about access and two complaints about clinical care or service, one of which was partially upheld.

Focus On … CWIC

Care When It Counts (CWIC) is a service that is run by the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership – or ELHSCP. They are based just next door to us – their front desk is near the main entrance of the Musselburgh Primary Care Centre.

The CWIC service consists of nurse practitioners, advanced nurse practitioners, physician associates and GPs who provide same-day assessment, diagnosis and treatment for patients from four GP Practices in East Lothian. This is part of the Scottish Government’s work to give GPs more time to spend with the patients who need it most.