A plea from our doctors: we need your support

Posted on 03rd October 2022 | in Community

You ring the surgery and find you’re eighth in the queue. Eventually you get through but there’s no appointments with a doctor or advanced nurse practitioner left that day. The receptionist asks if you feel it’s urgent enough to warrant a call back from the duty on-call GP.

The receptionist reviews the appointment screen and realises that unfortunately the emergency GP is unable to safely accept more patients.

We appreciate how frustrating this can be for you We wanted to take some time to help explain the challenge we face and hope you can help us to cope over this unprecedented time.

Coquet Medical Group staff at the Broomhill surgery

No matter how much the doctors and nurses want to provide an efficient caring service, they are a limited resource and when they attempt to deal with too many patients in a day there’s serious risk.

Risk to the patient, as the clinician is human and their judgement can be eroded when overloaded, and genuine risk to the clinician of “burnout”.

The “safe capacity” is there for a reason. It may mean you have to ring NHS 111 to be safely triaged but it helps ensure your local GP service can continue to function.

The NHS is under considerable pressure and cracks can be seen across the system.

Your local GP service from Coquet Medical Group will survive. Not only will it survive but plans are being developed to help Coquet Medical Group strengthen its position over time and expand the service we can offer you, our patients.

This, however, will take time and the next five – six months will be incredibly challenging for us all. We have over 12,000 patients and more houses are being developed in the area.

Pressures are extreme

Every day we find that our clinical capacity (i.e., Doctors / Nurses etc) is overwhelmed by the demand on our services. It’s like trying to pour two pints into a one pint jug every day.

Our practice has never had more doctors or nurses but still, requests for appointments outstrips our capacity daily.

Our doctors and nurses face a stream of patients every day and have around just 10 minutes per patient. In that time, we are focused to help identify those who are seriously unwell or in the early stages of serious illness such as cancer.

Time pressures are extreme, we would love to have far more time for each one of you, but the reality is that time is a finite resource and additional time spent with one patient places pressure on the time allocated to the next patient. At times this may make you and your clinician feel slightly rushed. We sincerely apologise for this.

Why don’t we simply allocate each patient more time for a consultation?

We review this constantly and the balance has been struck to allow us to safely manage around five patients per hour focusing on a single problem. We have invested heavily in increased staffing, but GPs take a long time to train and there is a major shortage across the country.

For highly motivated, caring people, who have followed a vocation to become a doctor or nurse, it can easily become demoralising when, despite all the energy and emotion you put into your job, you simply cannot meet all the needs of your patients.

Staff abuse will not be tolerated

A side effect of this overwhelming demand is that some patients become understandably frustrated.

Sadly, some of these patients then vent this angst on the most vulnerable and exposed members of our team – our reception staff.

As a direct result, our reception team has been depleted. This in turn places unenviable pressure on the remaining receptionists and in turn the wider team.

Such staff abuse will not be tolerated. Anyone threatening or abusing our staff, swearing or being disrespectful will find themselves warned and if appropriate, removed from our list.

A “zero tolerance” approach means just that – Coquet Medical Group will not tolerate any staff abuse. Anyone deciding to ignore this can try to find themselves another GP practice.

Enough said.

Additional staff

On a more positive note, we have recently managed to secure some GP locum support, and additional full-time staff will be joining us in October.

We have recruited a Covid Vaccine Manager to help deliver the booster campaign locally from our Amble site to all over 50yrs old and those over 5yrs old with underlying health issues.

We have recently managed to get support from the local CCG to have additional consulting rooms built at both our Amble and Hadston sites, and these are now operational. Despite these extra rooms we still do not have enough clinical rooms or staff to deliver the kind of service we are striving for.

It is our intention to hold further discussions with the CCG in Oct/Nov about this situation with the aim of extending the practice significantly.

By March 2023 our clinical staff will increase again as we have managed to recruit both another GP and ANP (Advanced Nurse Practitioner).

We need your help. We need your support, and we need your patience. Before you rush to ring or visit the GP practice, please consider whether other routes to access care and support would be appropriate.

PRACTICAL examples that should be noted are as follows – these can all be contacted DIRECTLY by you, our patients, and can speed up access for you to local treatment:
· Urgent mental health support –: NHS Crisis Team 0303 123 1146
Direct access to NHS mental health counselling services- Talking Matters: 0300 3030 700

Contact Us

· Social care needs – help with carers / needs assessments for care / housing problems, safeguarding for adults and children, mobility aids etc–
NHS One Call : 01670 536400


· Sexual Health including pregnancy termination and vasectomies
01670 515151

Referral for abortion

· Musculo-skeletal problems (e.g. back pain /knee/shoulder/hip pain)
JMAPS – Joint Musculoskeletal and Pain Service
03301 244 652
These services can provide direct access to help and can reduce pressure on our local GP practice.
In addition, pharmacists at our local chemists can often help with a range of problems and provide timely safe treatment.

Finally, please remember we are trying hard to provide safe care for you and your family when needed. This Autumn and Winter will test us all and will inevitably be tough.

Please do not underestimate the impact of the last two years on us all. We are now witnessing the effect of cumulative fatigue on staff members, and we must work together to protect the local GP service at Coquet Medical Group for you, your family, friends and our community.

Together we will get through Autumn and Winter and moving into 2023 our GP practice will consolidate its position and with your help and support will develop into the practice we would all wish for.

Thank you.
Drs Alison Oxby, Dr Katherine Carman, Dr Kathy McConnaiche,
Dr Jamie Willey & Dr Ben Burville
Partners Coquet Medical Group


Share this...
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

7 thoughts on "A plea from our doctors: we need your support"

  1. Beryl Holmes says:

    Thank you for taking the time to present this balanced picture of the intense situation faced by the practice.

    Hopefully being kept regularly informed of developments in place & planned will generate a better understanding among your clients.

    It is abhorrent that there are instances of staff abuse for which there is no excuse.
    A ‘thank you’ & a smile helps us all.

  2. Janet Moloney says:

    Thank you for taking the time to tell us this and helping us to understand the situation. All that you’re aiming to achieve sounds very positive. Thank you for looking after us all both now and into the future.

    Thank you also for the direct phone numbers links – they are very helpful!

  3. Sandra Orr says:

    Would that the public would wake up and realise our wonderful- not perfect ( that takes investment)NHS is on it’s knees!
    Low pay, lack of staff and abusive patients. I’m sure their next call for help wasn’t to a banker!

    Big thanks for all you do- we’d be lost without you.

  4. Joe Waugh says:

    The team at Coquet are hard working, skilful and dedicated. This clear communication, illustrating demand, and an ambition to always do better is brilliant. Everyone is doing their best. It is on us all to use this precious resource thoughtfully. The NHS is a truly wonderful thing, never to be taken for granted. Make no mistake, the current government have ambitions for an American model that would a disaster for the residents of Amble and Broomhill. Use it carefully, and champion it’s value. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone….

  5. Mona Lott says:

    Low pay? Can CMG please publish on its website average annual salaries of all Managers together with their resumes including qualifications and experience just as it has done for Doctors? Likewise, salaries of Nurses and Receptionists. No need for their resumes.

    The site hasn’t mentioned an Accountant. Kindly also share on the website detailed annual financial statements which should be in the public domain.

    The state of things isn’t idiopathic. Locally, it is due to the vast number of houses mushrooming and power hungry councillors and town planners who do nowt to address this. Nationally, as long as there is uncontrolled immigration, there will never be enough of NHS staff or money pumped into it.

    Shouting and swearing is a manifestation of anger. In the numerous training that staff attend, that too during weekdays, I hope they are taught to show patience and kindness where possible, to people who haven’t minced words because they are denied treatment, Hitting the panic button is not the solution. Help them to calm down.They will appreciate it.

    I don’t agree with aggressive behaviour or personal insults under any circumstances.

    NHS staff aren’t strangers to shouting. They do it a lot outside hospitals, yelling and shouting at us as we go past, demanding more wages from us. They stand shoulder to shoulder. Yet a while ago, the Surgery in an online post, warned us of their wrath if we support someone who has raised criticism against the Surgery. Sheer bullying. .

    I am always thankful to staff but I will not slate those who have an issue without knowing facts. Please show them some compassion and kindness as some of them can be the mildest of people but there comes a breaking point. You expect hundred per cent tolerance from us but show zero tolerance in return.

  6. J m says:

    Most people don’t have a problem with the medical side of things . The doctors do there best. There was a temporary doctor there recently who went out of his way to help my family member. That doctor got things moving when others had failed to. He even got in touch by phone at a later date to see how we got on at the hospital. There are also good receptionists but there are also some terrible receptionists past and present. Some come across very hostile to the point where people have not rang the surgery if they think certain receptionists will be working that day . Some receptionists have left vulnerable people feeling like they can’t ring the surgery.

  7. J m says:

    Its great that you are recruiting more staff . But it is not going to change anything because the population in amble is rising all the time .the population at hadston is about to rise by about 5 or 6 hundred over next 3 years when thy build on the industrial estate. The maths dont add up. The residents of hadston and amble just have to accept that it can not get better when they keep building more and more house’s. Getting appointments is going to be a problem for the next 6 or 7 years but possibly for ever you can not beat the incoming tide as they say.

Comments are closed.