The Hereford Medical Group has this afternoon issued a statement following concerns raised by members of the public on a Facebook post on the ‘Your Herefordshire’ Facebook Page.

The post in question was titled, ‘We are approaching a year since Greyfriars, King Street & Bobblestock, Moorfield House, Sarum House and Quay House surgeries merged as a single entity.

During that time we’ve received a lot of messages from people about concerns over waiting times for an appointment with some people having to wait up to a month to see a GP.

Do you believe the service has improved since the merger?’.

Within minutes, hundreds of comments were being posted by people who said they thought the service had got worse since the merger of the surgeries.

Many people including Lucy Noble have been affected by the changes with Lucy saying, “My 14 month old had been suffering for nearly 2 months with a really bad cough. I called and was given an appointment that evening; roughly about 6pm if I can recall. I turned up for the appointment to have a very grumpy GP who you could tell didn’t want to be seeing my daughter as she expressed herself she was meant to have finished at 5:30.

This was very disrespectful to us as she barely made an effort to assess my daughter and it is not the patients fault if appointments overrun.”

Hereford Medical Group is made up of the following surgeries; Greyfriars, King Street & Bobblestock, Moorfield House, Sarum House and Quay House.

Bethany Wright, Patient Experience and Communications Manager at Hereford Medical Group responded to the criticism with the following statement;

“Hereford Medical Group was formed on 1st July 2018 by the merger of 5 practices in Hereford City.

One of the main reasons for the merger was to provide a resilient service to the patients registered at each practice in the face of a national shortage of GPs. It would be fair to say that had the merger not taken place, then by now, at least two of the practices may have been forced to close due to the inability to recruit GPs to replace those that were retiring. This would have meant that patients at those practices would not have had any registered GP.

Since the merger, we have been successful in attracting new clinicians, including GPs, to strengthen the workforce and we continue to operate out of the 9 sites that the old practices had.

In order to deal with an ever growing demand for appointments, particularly on the day, we have opened an urgent care centre which operates out of Moorfield House.

Any patient who contacts and says that they need to be seen on the day will be asked for some brief information to enable an appropriate appointment to be booked. For example, patients do not necessarily need to be seen to obtain a repeat sick note. If patients require an assessment on the day, they will we placed on the triage list for a GP or Nurse Practitioner to call them back to discuss their problem. At this point, if a face to face appointment is required, then the patient will be offered an appointment for later that day. That will usually be at the Moorfield House site, but sometimes may be with a doctor, nurse practitioner or physiotherapist at a different location.

All calls to reception are now dealt with at one site by a team of up to 12 receptionists and staff aim to answer calls as quickly as possible, although there are some days and times that are busier than others.

The telephone system has been upgraded and now gives information about position in the queue and we are about to introduce a new staff rota which will increase the number of people answering calls at our busiest times. We understand the importance of answering telephones speedily and we are working hard to improve the service in this respect.

Patients are able to register for patient access which will allow them to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and see some key parts of their medical records.

We recognise that not all patients wish to use this, but would encourage anyone with a computer or smart phone to consider signing up for this free service.

We are always interested in receiving both good and not so good feedback and we have a Patient Participation Group that we work with to review and improve patient services. Any patient is welcome to join this group.”