Ipswich MP hopeful of practice's steps to improve access

Dr Dan Poulter MP.

Dr Dan Poulter said he is hopeful about steps forward for the Cardinal Medical Practice. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

An Ipswich MP is hopeful that the Cardinal Medical Practice "is beginning to make steps forward" after health bosses met to discuss improvement measures.

Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, made the comments after Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group addressed concerns around access and speed of treatment. 

The Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP said: "I found the local NHS to be quite defensive about the challenges faced by the Cardinal Medical Practice, and it has taken a little longer than we would have liked to get to a plan that's going to improve things for patients.

"I am hopeful that we are beginning to make steps forward to ensure that patients have the services restored that they have been used to."

Dr Poulter raised concerns around access and speed of treatment with the Care Quality Commission in September, following the merger of the Norwich Road, Chesterfield Drive and Deben Road surgeries.

He said: "The issue was never with the quality of care at the practice. Many of the patients say they're very happy with the care and the staff.

"But the issue has been people waiting on the phones, sometimes for hours, or sending emails or messages and not hearing back for days." 

Dr Poulter said the practice had recruited three patient call handlers, and still needed to recruit another three. The new staff would help to reduce waiting times on the phones.

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He said a new IT system would be introduced at the practice during November, and this would make a significant difference. "That is something that the CCG believes will help patients to have more rapid access to the care they need."

Committee chair Phanuel Mutumburi said the CCG would continue to monitor Cardinal's progress around issues including IT and other challenges.

"If any support or help is needed by the practice, then we will look at how that can be provided."  

At the meeting on Tuesday, Gill Jones from Healthwatch Suffolk asked the CCG for more details about the surgery's planned move to the Took site. 

David Brown, deputy chief operating officer at the CCG, said a lot of work was going on to do with the Tooks site, and it had to go through a lot of governance because there was a large sum of money involved.