Ipswich surgery hires more medical staff to deliver 12,130 appointments

Norwich Road GP surgery rated 'Good' by CQC.

Norwich Road GP surgery rated 'Good' by CQC. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Ipswich super surgery Cardinal Medical Practice has recruited a lot more medical staff and has delivered 12,130 appointments in August. 

Lots of patients at the practice made up of Chesterfield Drive, Norwich Road and Deben Road surgeries have reported struggling to book appointments and get medical care since the merger of the three GPs in July.  

A statement from the Cardinal Medical Practice said the merger was necessary for "the future of primary care" and without it, they would have faced "serious challenges" to recruit staff and meet demand. 

They added: “We acknowledge there is still work to do and have recruited additional staff, including two GPs, a practice paramedic, an advanced nurse practitioner, a clinical pharmacist, a pharmacy technician and a care coordinator, with further recruitment ongoing, and over the coming weeks their new roles will have a positive impact."

Cardinal Medical Practice is also getting more receptionist staff and trying to deal with telephone line issues, where people are sometimes cut off when they wait on hold, which it's been experiencing since July. 

In addition, it has 50% more calls from patients than in previous months, offered 10,775 appointments in July and 12,130 appointments in August.

The added: "Most E-consult responses do not need an appointment and can be fully dealt with by email or text.

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“We recognise that this merger has been challenging for patients and our hardworking staff and we apologise for the inconvenience. We thank patients for their continued support and assure them we are doing our very best.”

But for older patients like 90-year-old Mary Dedham and 64-year-old David Gardiner, the phone line where they are in the queue for a long time and are cut off is their only way to get an appointment. 

Both in recent weeks have struggled with Mrs Dedham, who has a benign tumour and pain in her spine, saying: "I go to the doctors as a last resort but I cannot get an appointment

"It's shameful."

Mr Gardiner said when he was unable to get his repeat prescription for diabetes, heart and breathing issues: "It was really bad." 

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Archant

Andy Yacoub, chief executive, Healthwatch Suffolk, said mergers happen because of declining doctors and limited national capital funding for medical buildings but need to be balanced with patients' needs. 

A spokesman from NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, who oversees GP care, said: “We know how hard staff are working at the Cardinal Medical Centre to make this merger a success and we will continue to support them with all they are doing."