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Open letter to our patients Posted on 26 Jul 2021

Your GP Practice team and how they are continuing to care for you and your family

Dear Patients

I am writing this letter in response to the understandable concerns of some patients about access to their GP, and to other members of the primary care team, following negative newspaper reports and unhelpful comments from some officials and politicians who should know better. General practice, including your GP practice in Essex, has remained open throughout the Covid pandemic and continues to provide the best possible care to patients despite the obvious strains on the NHS and our colleagues in Social care.

Appointments are now delivered either face to face, or by telephone or online, and “triage” or sorting of patient needs and requirements is now routine in order to provide the most suitable response in terms of effective and timely access to the correct clinician. You will have noticed an increasing range of professionals within your practice and its wider team, as this is intended to improve your access to care and to relieve pressure on your GP.

A few numbers to illustrate the problems faced by your practice:

  • Nationally, 10% more GP appointments were delivered in the last year compared with two years ago, even though general practice is not an emergency service.
  • 23.5 million appointments were delivered in general practice in May 2021, as well as 8.5 million vaccination appointments. (General practice has delivered around 70% of the successful national vaccination programme)

This illustrates the increasing demand on the service, and at a time when GP numbers are generally falling, meaning more patients than ever are trying to see each GP.

Many of you have been affected in different ways by Covid including Essex GPs and their staff. Though it may take years for the NHS to recover, practices will continue to provide services to our patients and at the same time are preparing for a challenging autumn and winter. The South Essex Local Medical Committee is aware of this additional strain and will continue to support practices to care for you and your family.

I ask that you work with your practice to maximise the care they can give both to you and your fellow citizens, and to remember that we are all in this together.

Best wishes

Dr Brian Balmer
Chief Executive, North and South Essex Local Medical Committees

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