Behind the scenes at Axminster Medical Practice

Axminster Medical Practice. Picture Chris Carson

Axminster Medical Practice. Picture Chris Carson - Credit: Archant

Trustee of Axminster Hospital League of Friends Steve Holt has this message for the community

As a patient of Axminster Medical Practice, I was concerned by some of the things I was hearing. As a Trustee of the League of Friends, people bend my ear with their concerns. I therefore decided to talk with the surgery.

I learned a great deal about the restrictions being put on medical practices by NHS England and was appalled by the way some people in our community have behaved during these difficult times.

Some of you may have seen my recent social media post regarding the Axminster Medical Practice. With the advent of the new ‘lockdown’ and for those who are not “social media-ites”, I agreed with the practice to reiterate some points, and update on others that affect both the practice and the services they are offering.

The practice is still working under strict NHS England controls and has not had to modify its working practices over the recent weeks. Unlike some practices, Axminster’s doors have remained open. It has the reception and dispensary staff separated into two shifts to ensure that, in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak in one team, the service can still be provided by the other. This does mean that there are less people available at any one time. One of the emerging issues with their open-door policy is that people continue to wander in off the streets, expecting the service to be as prior to March of this year. When people are informed that they cannot just call in, they have become abusive to members of staff, which, in my book is totally unacceptable.


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The practice launched its flu vaccine programme a few weeks ago which has been extremely successful. The protocol is that they contact you with a date and time for your appointment. Since the start of the latest lockdown, take-up has understandably reduced. However, the biggest issue remains that, despite being asked, patients are not letting the Practice know when they are not going to attend. This has the effect of doctors and nurses waiting in vain but more importantly the practice is unable to allocate that vacant slot to someone else. If you are unable to attend a flu clinic, please let the practice know.

We are all aware that hospital waiting lists are getting longer and waiting times are extending. Once your GP has referred you to a specialist, they are no longer in control of your specialist treatment. If you have any concerns or wish to check up then the communication route is either via a phone number on your contact letter or through the Devon Referral Service on 01626 883888. The Practice is still there to support your continuing health needs or if your condition deteriorates.

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We have all seen the latest government communication regarding the possible Covid-19 vaccines. The Practice has had some overview communication from NHS England and the CCG regarding some roll-out protocols but these are still quite sketchy and will need reviewing from a local perspective before any robust programme can be considered. There is no definite timing for the release of the vaccine yet but the Practice will ensure that it complies with the government’s guidelines and will communicate how this will work as soon as the detail becomes available.

Finally, put yourself in the position of our physicians. Diagnosis of a condition is always better face to face. They are being forced to make the initial diagnosis over the phone often with limited information from the patient. They are responsible for any decisions they make under these conditions. I know I would not want that level of stress.

We need our medical practice to be a safe place for us to go to and for their staff to work. We need our medical practice to retain its staff. Abuse of practice staff is both abhorrent and unacceptable.

Stay safe and actively support your NHS.

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