Dear Patient of Bath Lodge Practice,

As we near the half way point through the year, this is a good time to take stock of where we are as a practice, to report back to you, and to share our vision for the coming months.

Of course, the big headline is that we have been awarded the coveted ‘Good’ CQC rating after the CQC’s full and comprehensive inspection in February. It required a huge team effort, over many months, and included support and input from you, our patients, and particularly the PPG. The positive report can be read here:

Never ones to rest on our laurels, we forge ahead, conscious that, while the CQC have confirmed that we are a very competent practice, we still have many areas that we would like to improve in. Your feedback remains a vital part of this process and continues to influence the direction we take.

As you know well, the NHS around us is also changing a-pace and primary care struggles to keep up with the constant changes in guidelines, reforms in practice, and ever-reducing resources. Nevertheless, we strive to give you the best service that any NHS general practice could provide, even in this on-going climate of medical service austerity.

We know that particular areas that you have asked for improvement in are the telephone lines, access to appointments, and continuity with clinicians. We are determined to ensure that your experience, from the initial point of contact through to the delivery of your clinical care, is absolutely first-rate. We know that, for some of you, this hasn’t always been the case. For this we are always ready to apologise, learn from our failings and improve on our rate of success.

One of the first changes made by Jill Webb, our Practice Manager, after she arrived 9 months ago, was to implement a new telephone system. This has been widely applauded, and she continues to tweak it according to the user feedback that you give us. She has also been working closely with the Southampton CCG to ensure that Bath Lodge is one of the fore-runners in the city with online consultations, part of the ‘brave new future’ for the NHS. These will be integrated with the website and are intended to further improve your access to care.

Despite saying good-bye to Dr Eliatamby last month, we have successfully recruited new members of the clinical team. In February, Tara Hughes, Health Care Assistant, joined the treatment room nurses, and has been providing you with blood testing and health checks. In April, we welcomed Tegan Davies, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, who brought with her a wealth of acute medical experience and has been providing essential appointments throughout the weeks. You may also have noticed some new regular faces among the GPs: Dr Dimitrios Schizas, Dr Ola Ajidahun, Dr Miles Fletcher and Dr Jan Heunis are just some of the excellent Locum GPs who have agreed to offer their services to us on a regular basis, ensuring that we provide some much-needed continuity of care.

In the coming weeks and months we are embarking on an improvement project, working with external experts to identify where we, as a practice, could update or replace old systems with more efficient and cost-effective methods. Many of the changes will be less obvious to you, improving our back-office and behind-the-scenes functions. However, some will be obvious. For example, in the next few weeks we will be closing down the prescription telephone line. This will be a necessary change to ensure that we are adhering to strict rules regarding data and information transfer, as well as making use of the enhanced electronic prescription requesting services.

We will be working closely with pharmacies, physiotherapists and other health care providers in the community to ensure that your queries are directed to the most appropriate place or person, stream-lining your experience. This will entail the reception and clinical teams collaborating even more with each other to direct your calls effectively.

At a time when finances within the NHS are tight, all GP practices are being forced to become more business-minded. This means that we must be responsible and frugal in our spending, and explore new ways to generate income that we can re-invest in the practice, to everyone’s benefit.

As always, your continued support, encouragement and feedback is both welcome and essential. You are a fantastic community to serve!

Yours sincerely and to your very good health,

Dr Richard Baxter     On behalf of the Team at Bath Lodge Practice