This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Hero GPs and staff defy snow chaos to care for patients

GPs and practice staff have been going the extra mile – quite literally – to care for patients despite the snow chaos that has engulfed Britain.

Pulse was told of a practice manager getting up in the middle of the night to walk hours to get to work, while GPs and practice managers even slept in their practices to ensure smooth running of services.

Elsewhere, a GP reportedly went to work on skis - although the heroic effort was futile as no one else could get to the surgery.

A GP in Essex said: ‘No buses this morning. One of our receptionists walked in. It took her 4.25 hours. That is what i call dedication.

‘I also heard about local practice manager who has spent two nights in her health centre as too difficult to get home.’

Dr Stephanie Balboa and Dr Eleri Roberts slept overnight in Abersychan Surgery, just north of Pontypool, Wales, to keep it open on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

Dr Balboa said: 'As soon as we heard about the red alert we packed our cars with sleeping bags and duvets. We know the area and how bad weather can make it completely closed off. If we had driven home last night, we wouldn’t have been able to return.

'We had kind offers of beds from the community and from the local pub but we were well set up in the practice. There are sofas in the common room and thankfully it’s well heated.'

'By the time 9am came we had patients at the door and we’re planning on staying open through the day, though it would be nice to get home tonight!'

Dr Zoe Norris, a GP in Hull and chair of the BMA GP Committee’s sessional subcommittee, said: ‘Colleague of mine drove half way to his locum booking and skied the rest of the way! He got sent home again as no one else could get to the surgery so they were closing.’

She added: ‘Another colleague got up at 5.30am to walk to his car that he had to abandon yesterday, and try to dig it out so he could get to his booking. By 6.30 he had to admit defeat and walk home again but I’m impressed he tried!’

Kent LMC chair Dr Gaurav Gupta, a GP at the Faversham Medical Practice, said: ‘One of the paramedic practitioners drove the healthcare assistant to do visits and drove GPs in his 4x4 to keep services running.

‘The HCA spent three hours to come in, GPs did similar times. People coming in on days off.'

He added: ‘Practice nurse dumping car after spending hours trying to get to work and walking to train station taking train to get in... Goes on and on. And this is just one practice!’

Dr Matthew Piccaver, a GP in Suffolk, said: ‘We are in a very rural area. Set off at 06.15am, all roads out of my village blocked, went back home. Tried again two hours later after local farmer took telehandler with a loader attachment to the drifts.

'Not sure how I'm going to get home however.’

Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, and a GP in the Peak District, revealed on Twitter that she was job-swapping with other GPs who were all snowed in.

Meanwhile, in Hull, a snow medical student saw the light of day.

Readers' comments (10)

  • All the stories are very commendable but does anybody (public & politicians) really care? Powers to be will say doctors just did what they are supposed to do. Let this weather pass and same people will start cribbing about lack of access to GP services

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Cobblers

    Yes I read this and felt despondent. Pleased at the staff dedication but more than aware that NHSE count it a weakness to be exploited.

    Follow the NHSE example. A few snowflakes in the drive and take the day off and relax with the family. Sledge with the kids. Your inner child will thank you for it.

    Goodwill to the NHS is not in out best interests.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • All very commendable but texted Sky regarding a TV issue and got reply saying no one in call centre to answer due to adverse weather.

    CCG staff working from home too.

    PS I'm in work and consulting and Lincolnshire roads all jolly entertaining

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • What Now?

    5000 of these snow men could stand in for the 5000 gps planned... no wont work they dont do anything

    One could be the health secretary ...
    hmmm yes this could work
    A sound bite speech bubble every now and then addeed by the spin doctors ..

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • You can divide the world into those whose jobs are missed in a snow storm and those who are still needed.

    I have some criteria related to jobs not needed in a zombie apocalypse also but that’s another story.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Footballers not to travel due to adverse conditions.
    Rugby players-training at 7.

    Substitute "footballers" and "rugby players" as you see fit!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I regularly visit surgeries across our area. GP practices are embedded in the communities that they serve. The staff are drawn from that community. We and our staff live, shop and send our children to school in the same places as the patients. The photos on the walls speak of history - a partner opening the building, a memorial to a patient who donated towards a piece of equipment, long service awards to staff members.

    This stuff is intangible and valuable. There is a psychological contract.

    Merger, federation, apps that cherry pick low risk patients: these are potential destabilisers of something precious that will be missed if it disappears.

    Look after one another, you are valuable.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • So the 4 by 4, for 51 weeks of the year a gas guzzling planet wrecker driven by selfish petrol-heads, for 1 week an unpaid 5th emergency service driven by heroes.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • NHSE were scanning practice websites yesterday to see if "service provision changes" were being made without their being informed according to our LMC. No pharmacist in our local pharmacy. No one seems that bothered...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Let's hope no member of staff dies trying to get to work in these conditions. Safety first for my staff, and we will deal with emergencies only in adverse conditions. People taking risks to see someone with a fungal toenail infection is pretty pointless.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say