This site is intended for health professionals only

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 4×4 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!’

Article continues below this sponsored advert

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.