Two GPs slept at their practice to avoid being late for their appointments the day after, the practice manager has told Pulse.
News of a strike at the nearby nuclear site Sellafield convinced Dr Kathryn Illsley and Dr Tim Sowton, daily commuters, to sleep at The Seascale Health Centre in Cumbria.
‘When there is a strike, a normal 40-minutes commute could take up to three hours,’ said practice manager Lisa Drake.
‘Our surgery is three miles from Sellafield at Seascale and so all traffic travelling to Sellafield use the A595. There are about 10000 workers and the majority travel by car so any delays cause long tailbacks on the main trunk road,’ she said.
For this reason, the two GPs deliberately decided to stay in the surgery to avoid running late the morning after, said Ms Drake.
‘It was the first time they stayed over for the night. Of course, it wasn’t a comfortable night but we’ve all decided now that we’re going to bring in some blow-up mattresses,’ she said.
The practice manager said that they previously tried to solve this problem by introducing a requirement for GPs applying to work at the practice to live close to its premises.
However, Ms Drake said they had to cope with short staffing levels for the past three years and now they have only one out of seven GPs living in the vicinity of the practice.
Another way to tackle the problem would be to reduce the number of patients going to the practice and do video-consulting instead, the practice manager suggested.
But she added that the rural infrastructure they have available in Cumbria is way behind what a practice located in an urban area would have available.
‘Not all of our patients have the technical capabilities to work with video-consulting. And we have no signal at all in our practice,’ she said.