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Dr Penny Edrich: Good does not cover it

I have spent a lot of time dictating and receiving letters over the last ten years working as a GP. I wanted to write this one to share with you two pieces of mail that I received recently.

The first, our outline CQC report, sent to us to check for inaccuracies prior to publication on the website. We were awarded ‘good’ in all domains. A relief I suppose, having spent many hours on top of our clinical workload checking that our policies and procedures, equipment and premises were all up to the required standard.

The preparation of a presentation for the day of inspection showed our strengths – a full complement of GPs and nursing staff despite widespread vacancies locally and nationally, a teaching practice for undergraduate and postgraduate students, both medical and nursing, and more recently for the newly established local physician associate training scheme. We have great links with our community nurses and other professions allied to medicine.

Our practice began the long established monthly protected teaching sessions across our whole town, building strong links with our local secondary care colleagues. We had extensive audits and safety work to show, and are members of the local GP forum and clinical governance group. The Mori poll showed excellent patient satisfaction and access scores. Our patient group were very supportive of the care we provide, and had come in on inspection day to relay this. We had 62 pieces of positive feedback on the CQC forms, the highest amount our inspector had ever seen.

A ‘good’ hardly seemed to encompass all we have achieved and still strive to provide to our patients.

But it was the second piece of mail that really mattered. A thank-you from a patient. A high quality looking gold embossed card with shiny things stuck on to it. I don’t receive those often, I practice in one of the most deprived areas in England.

The wording inside – ‘Many, many thanks for seeing me last Friday, you literally saved my life’. You see I had squeezed this lady in urgently as she said she needed to be seen. Capacity stretched to the utmost, we will drop everything for someone who says they need us to. Indeed she did, a few hours later she was in our local hospital on ITU. Our excellent access, prompt action, recognition of severity and timely intervention really did help to save her life, and she was grateful and thoughtful enough to write to say thank you. In my ensuing 12+ hour days this lovely card makes me proud to be a GP, there for our patients when they need it most. And I think they would agree ‘good’ just doesn’t cover it.

Dr Penny Edrich is a GP in Weston-super-Mare