'Diabolical' staffing levels at South Holland GPs highlighted by NHS patient survey, say Glynis Scalese and George Scott
A patient survey has highlighted the strain ‘diabolical’ staffing levels are putting on our GP services.
An NHS questionnaire has provided statistics on satisfaction levels with doctors surgeries throughout the area - with four below average nationally when it comes to providing a ‘good overall experience’.
Spalding’s Beechfield Medical Centre, along with Holbeach and Long Sutton’s surgeries, had over 30% of their patients fail to put them in that category - while Munro Medical Centre in Spalding fell just below the national average of 72%, with an approval rating of 71%.
Beechfield and Long Sutton were joined by Spalding GP Surgery, Littlebury Medical Centre (Holbeach) and Swineshead Surgery in being below the nationwide average for giving patients their preferred appointment time slots.
Beechfield scored particularly poorly in that category, with 14% of its patients seeing their doctor when they would like - compared to a 38% national average.
South Holland District councillor Glynis Scalese, who works with the Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire, believes the majority of these problems come down to staffing shortages within the industry.
She said: “We just haven’t got the staff. Where are those people coming from? A lot of them retired during Covid and don’t want to come back because of the stress and the strain that there now is on the NHS.
“I don’t know where all this is going now, I really don’t. We just can’t get anybody. It’s diabolical.”
Coun Scalese does not believe staff members themselves are at fault for the issues - and the majority of our area’s services did score well for their treatment once appointments were obtained.
She praised the Munro Medical Centre, where she is a patient, and said: “I’ve had nothing but absolutely top notch treatment from them.
“Nothing has ever been too much bother to that surgery.”
However, she added that she understands the public’s frustrations. Last week, as part of her Healthy Scrutiny Report, she suggested devising an incentive programme to improve recruitment and retention at GP surgeries.
Coun Scalese also believes increasing the number of receptionists at surgeries will reduce the time patients spend in phone call queues.
George Scott, a former NHS worker who is campaigning to keep the GP surgery at the Johnson Community Hospital open, doesn’t believe aspiring doctors will be tempted to our area if they see facilities closing down.
He added that patients struggling to book appointments will ‘definitely become an issue’ if more than 3,000 of them are forced into finding another surgery.
Mr Scott said: “Our biggest problem is that we’re getting houses built left, right and centre. The population of Spalding is going to increase over the next few years, so what are they going to do about it?
“How are they going to deal with the influx of patients?”
According to Mr Scott, health chiefs should be aiming to open a fourth surgery in Spalding rather than closing one down.
He praised the current booking service and treatment quality at the Johnson Community Hospital’s surgery.
In the NHS survey, Gosberton Medical Centre performed particularly well.
The surgery scored in the 90% region for much of the ‘Your last appointment’ category, while 91% of patients described their overall experience at the practice as ‘good’. The second highest in our area was 78% at Swineshead - with the national average at 72%.
Gosberton’s practice manager Dorota Kowynia-Kaczor said: “Praise is always something that we want to hear.
“People are very quick to judge and very quick to give you a negative opinion, but it’s not so very often that you get good praise. That’s something that will definitely boost our morale and makes us feel so much better.”