New staff help reduce waiting times at Melton GP practice

Significant recruitment of new clinical and administrative staff has reduced waiting times for routine appointments and phone callers at Melton’s GP surgery.

By Nick Rennie
Friday, 28th January 2022, 3:57 pm
Latest medical news EMN-220128-154951001
Latest medical news EMN-220128-154951001

Latham House Medical Practice say they have hired four salaried doctors, two practice nurses, two registrars, two physician associates and a paramedic in recent months.

Six new people have also joined the reception and administrative teams and further additions include two pharmacy employees, two healthcare assistants, a social prescribing link worker and two apprentices.

As a result the Sage Cross Street practice has increased the number of patients it can see each day, with average waiting times for routine appointments reducing from a concerning 17 days to 12 days now.

Latham House Medical Practice executive manager, Kate Hunter EMN-220128-155008001

In terms of average waiting times for telephone callers to the surgery, this figure has fallen to just under five minutes from 18 minutes five months ago.

The new hires have gone a long way towards solving the problems the practice was having toward the back end of last summer caused by unfilled vacancies and staff absences due to sick and compassionate leave.

It’s resources have also been stretched over the winter because of the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron Covid variant and the usual seasonal spike in patients seeking treatment.

Executive manager, Kate Hunter, said: “Recruiting and retaining experienced clinical staff remains a challenge, as it does for the whole sector, and we remain focussed on creating a great place to work for all our team alongside promoting Melton Mowbray as an employee destination.

Latham House Medical Practice in Melton EMN-220128-155050001

“Recruiting more staff to our reception and call handling team has enabled us to improve the patient contact experience via our phones and reduce telephone call waiting times.

“In addition to recruiting more staff we are also investing in a new telephone system which we will implement in the next couple of months.

“This system has multiple benefits including a call back option to save holding in a telephone queue.”

The practice says it has also helped reduce waiting times by providing a wider range of online methods of contacting staff to remove the need to visit or telephone.

The reception area at Latham House Medical Practice in Melton EMN-220128-155101001

Patients can also access some services such as physiotherapy as self-referrals without having to go through the surgery.

Ms Hunter added: “Alongside these positive changes we have also continued to face challenges.

“We continue to support the Covid vaccination programme, both at Melton Sports Village and from our practice, and have delivered one of the largest flu vaccination programmes in our experience whilst navigating staff Covid-related isolation periods.

“GPs are also managing greater numbers of patients presenting with greater complexity.

“In addition, the challenges to our sector continue as significant backlogs within secondary care, as a result of the pandemic, puts additional pressure on primary care as we continue to support patients through the difficult and often painful waiting period until treatment can be offered at hospital.”

Patients are reminded that face coverings are still required for visitors to Latham House, and all healthcare settings, despite the relaxation of national coronavirus measures removing the mandatory wearing of them in many places.

The Melton surgery has an average of 80 extremely clinically vulnerable patients visiting every day and masks will continue to keep them safe.