Once in a generation pressure on the NHS and general practice

Dear Patients,

At Tamar Valley Health GP practice we pride ourselves in providing the best possible patient care, even when the circumstances are making this challenging.

We will always strive to give you, our patients access to the healthcare you need when you need it. We demonstrated this dedication from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic where Tamar Valley Health staff and partners made the decision to keep the practice doors open and to continue to see patients face to face throughout the pandemic, this was while many other organisations closed theirs.

Right now the pressures on the NHS are undeniably huge and relentless, am I am sure you will have seen the concerning headlines in the media, and this is unfortunately true for Tamar Valley Health GP practice. Every week we are battling staff shortages because of COVID self-isolation and illness, some weeks we have  lost nearly 100 hours of clinician time. On the other hand we are seeing a gigantic increase in demand for appointments because of the backlog of work caused by the COVID pandemic.

Our staff are being fantastic, they are making a massive effort ensuring we can provide you with the healthcare you need. They have been working enormous amounts of additional hours to support our patients every day, and extra to provide a local, convenient COVID and influenza vaccination centre at the Callington Town Hall.

We take every day over 500 telephone calls, provide daily over 250 GP appointments, many of those face to face, over 400 clinician appointments, we dispense over 1,000 prescription medicines, and deal with 100s of patient questions. We are very proud of our winter vaccination program, so far we have done over 6,700 vaccinations of COVID and influenza this season with another 7,000 to be done.

I write this plea to you our patients because we are genuinely heading into one of the toughest winters for the NHS that we have seen in over a generation. We are seeing the pressures of pent-up demand for appointments, COVID backlog of delayed work, and the unavoidable staff shortages.

This means that we will need to ask you our patients to support the practice and our staff, so we can meet the healthcare needs of all our patients where possible over this winter season.

  • Please wherever possible use digital ways to access us as it frees up time for those who need to and can only access us by phone. For example, you can now order your prescription online from our dispensaries/pharmacy, book appointments, see blood test results.
  • We have e-consultation tool, accessed from our website that you can use any time of day to contact us about non-urgent health issues
  • All our patients can use the Livi video consultation app to access NHS doctors from 18:00 to 22:00 on weekdays, and 08:00 to 16:00 on Weekends (see: www.livi.co.uk)
  • If you are housebound and you need a visit from our healthcare team please ensure you contact us before 13:00 so we can help meet your request
  • Remember we have a broad clinical team who are very experienced and capable who can help with your health needs from mental health practitioners, physiotherapists, nurse practitioners, pharmacy technicians, pharmacists, and health care assistants
  • Lastly, it is important to stress that our staff are very happy to help you get the healthcare you need. They are not there to be hurt or abused by anyone. We have a very strict zero tolerance policy, and if our staff face aggression and abuse, we will not hesitate to refuse treatment and remove patients from our practice.

Thank you for taking your time to read this, your understanding and helping us support you and our staff.

Mark Stone Pharmacist Partner, TVH Partners, and TVH Managers