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We must re-invest in small surgeries

I have worked for over 12 years as a receptionist/administrator in NHS general practice.

In the past two years I have been working in a small, independent practice in Bermondsey, South East London. I have been very happy here and will be sad to leave. This is due to retirement and family commitments.

Prior to 2013, I was employed in a large medical centre for ten years. This practice had over 16,000 patients. So I have experienced ’both sides of the coin’ within the NHS and seen many changes, many have worsened things.

In my long experience, the larger medical centres do not offer a good service to patients, mainly due to the lack of appointments and personal continuity of care. Where I worked previously, one had to wait up to four weeks for an appointment with an unknown GP. This is very stressful for patients, but also receptionists, who receive the backlash.

Theoretically, the large medical centres can sound good by offering maybe ten or more GPs, but the reality is that six or seven of those tend to be female, part-time GPs. This leads to both lack of appointments and continuity of care: both are very important. These losses inevitably cause low morale for surgery staff, as patients become frustrated and more demanding.

I never experienced this in the small and more personal practice. Here there are two GPs and one nurse. Patients are easily seen within three days and there are emergency appointments available at the end of each morning and afternoon sessions. Consultations are quicker, easier and more personal – everyone is happier.

My experience has led to my firm view that we must re-invest in small, independent surgeries where there is continuity of care and patients are treated as individuals to be understood, rather than managed for the staff’s convenience.

I know which kind of practice I would rather be registered with.