Launceston Medical Centre

OPEN LETTER TO LAUNCESTON MEDICAL CENTRE PATIENTS
We’d like to thank all our patients for their compassion and understanding. We know it’s difficult to get
through on the telephone and this can be testing and frustrating for us all. We wanted to assure
everyone we are taking measures to improve access and reduce waiting times on the phones:
• Increasing staffing levels within Reception and across the practice
• Introducing a designated Covid/Flu line so these queries can be dealt with in a different
department
• Encourage those who are able to use the E-Consult or Livi consultation options
• Improving the capacity for ‘on the day’ bookings to try and reduce how often patients are asked
to call back another day
• Advising patients to avoid our busiest times 8.30 am – 10.30 am and 12.00-2 pm
Contrary to many news reports we at Launceston Medical Centre are still offering a high number of face-to-face appointments but that overall workload for the practice has increased greatly. We are very
conscious about keeping everyone safe so are trying to minimise everyone’s risk as far as possible inside
the building.
In 2019, before Covid-19 came along, the practice was seeing an average of 3800 patients face to face
per month. Then covid hit. These days, we do 2800-3300 face-to-face appointments per month but we
must carefully distance patients.
We know many patients prefer telephone consultations as they are easier to fit into day-to-day life. Our
telephone contacts are up from 683 to between 2000-2500 per month. We are also assisting again with
the Covid booster rollout for our most vulnerable patients alongside our annual flu campaign.
We would like to make sure patients fully understand our triage system and to know that it is not there
as a barrier to stop you seeing your doctor. Our experienced reception team are working tirelessly to
help you speak to or see a clinician when needed. The process goes like this:
• Patient telephones reception and asks for a face to face appointment with a GP
• Where appropriate, the Patient advisor will offer alternative options – either E-Consult or Livi or
to see one of our Nurse Practitioners or Paramedics
• If these options are not appropriate and capacity allows, the Patient Advisor books a telephone
triage call with the GP
• GP calls patient and offers a face to face appointment if required or necessary
It may feel like a longer process than how we used to work but what it does is allow more patients
access to a clinician in a much shorter time frame to pre–covid days.
Other strategies we are using to help offer the best service to our patients are:
• We’ve employed new GP practice staff wherever possible but the UK has a shortage of GPs and
our dispensary and reception team get a lot of abuse from the public so it can be difficult to
recruit/retain staff.
• We have taken a proactive stance with regards to mental health and employed the only GP
Clinical Psychologist in the UK, allowing other areas to learn by our example
• We have been successful in appointing a Social Prescriber to work on loneliness and isolation as
both impact physical and mental health in our community, particularly post-covid
• We are trying to help overcome the NHS staffing shortage by becoming a training practice. We
now support GP and psychologist university training programmes
• We send out surveys to patients asking for feedback in an attempt to improve services
• We use our newly extended car park as an extension of the waiting room to allow for higher
appointment rates without compromising social distancing
Thank you for supporting us as we try to support you.
All GPs and staff at Launceston Medical Centre

October 2021