Marden Medical Centre
Written by a patient
12th November 2014
I like the personnel who seem competent. Some present an air of being harassed and want to make decisions quickly which can sometimes give an impression of brusqueness and the need to process our requests quickly so that they can get on with the important business of running the practice without interruption. I consider that as patients we are fully entitled to an attentive service which we pay for through our taxes. I suspect that the brusqueness is caused by some rather poorly thought out ideas imposed by the NHS administration on the surgery which have since become enshrined as 'holy cows' which we as patients dare challenge only at our peril.
The first is the system of appointments by 10 minute slots rather than the well tried first come, first served traditional method of queing. It is a very bad system as evidenced by the number of 'dnas' (Did not attend(s)) complained of by other surgeries. I could discuss in detail but almost certainly there will not be enough space here. In brief though, it intensifies computer workload, gives people 'slots; they don't really want and SLOWS down the rate of throughput because of the number of telephone calls needed to arrange and rearrange as people far away or with awkward appontment times fail to turn up. It needs some intelligent analysis in depth to see just how much damage the system does.
The second holy cow is that the telephones must be off between one and three. Telephone calls are a stochastic event and if they are funnelled into zones away from the most convenient times for patients i.e during their lunch breaks etc then the pressure intensifies during the times that are available. Those calls unsatisfied during the current day will now increase the burden of calls the next day gradually causing a situation where the phones ring constantly with incoherent and bad tempered patients who are simply desperate to get through sometime before the surgery closes. If staff cannot do their work because of interruptions from phones - the simple answer is to divide tasks into phone answering jobs and non phone answering jobs. It is NOT a solution to stop the phones ringing which is a decision made for the surgery's convenience not the convenience of patients.
The third holy cow is that the surgery must sometimes be closed for training. In private industry this hardly ever happens unless its an emergency. If people need training they should be taken off the 'effective strength' for the duration of the training and adequate substitute personnel should be provided so that the surgery remains open at all normally available times. Closing it is a convenience for the surgery - not the patient.
We all understand that money or the lack of it persuades some administrators that some service is better than no service but we should definitely all stop pretending that it is a good service unless we are prepared to give maximum effort to patient throughput and convenience. Cost cutting measures which promote inefficiency need to be challenged in the light of the realisation that they probably save no money in real terms at all. Longer queues of patients, overwhelm resources by keeping them constanly occupied rather than making them available for reducing the queues. It's a circular fault. You cannot give or get service without adequate throughput and choking a pipe with holy cows causes thirst in the servers and the served. Enough said.