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Message For Our Patients – Update On Robin Hood Lane Health Centre. 

Mar ‘24 

The NHS is under extraordinary pressure. This is particularly true of General Practice. We want to let you know about the effect all of this is having on your Health Centre. 

Increased demand for our services: 

There are increased expectations from government and our patients about what we should be doing. Increasing hospital waiting lists also have a big impact on us – patients who are waiting to see specialists need more input because of their worsening symptoms. The number of people living in Sutton has increased by approx. 20,000 from 2011 – 2021, all needing to be registered at a GP surgery. We are better at keeping people alive, so more people are living with complicated long term conditions. These people will understandably need more input from health care professionals. 

Significant financial pressures on General Practice: 

Over the last few years, Robin Hood Lane Health Centre and all GP surgeries nationally, have been under increased financial pressure. Just like in your households, we have seen huge increases in all our costs – everything we buy costs more, our energy costs have spiralled, and our staffing costs have also increased.  

Since 2008 this has added up to 52% real terms funding cut to primary care, as our funding from the government has not matched inflation. Despite this funding crisis, general practice has provided record levels of appointments in the last few years, more than ever before. 

The impact of this financial crisis are many. For example, when we are short staffed due to sickness we cannot afford to pay for locums or over-time. We are having to make very difficult decisions about what we can and can’t afford, in order to keep your practice viable.  

How this affects you: 

All our staff are working extremely hard to provide the best level of care they can for you. We cannot work any harder. We can only provide the level of service we are funded for, however we often go over and above this.  

You may have already noticed that waiting times for routine appointments are longer. There will be times that we need to ask you to access healthcare elsewhere as this is most appropriate. For example, the pharmacies in Sutton are now able to assess and treat a number of minor conditions as part of the Pharmacy First Scheme. The way you contact and access us has changed using Anima, this allows us to have more control over who can be managed safely and appropriately by other clinicians or our community partners (such as the opticians, community pharmacists and dentist) and who needs to sees a GP. All of this has been advised by NHS England. 

We are doing everything we can to try and minimise the impact on the service we offer. We are looking at different ways of delivering care (such as group consultations for diabetes) so that you can still access good quality care with us. We are working with NHS England to make sure we are as efficient as possible with the resources we have. 

You can help us by trying to self-manage minor illness, by using other services when they are offered to you and by attending the health checks you are invited to. By downloading the NHS App you can easily request your medication, see results and check appointments, without needing to call reception. 

If you feel strongly about the issue of general practice, the service we are able to offer and the funding we receive, you may wish to contact your local MP and the politicians that ultimately are responsible – we are in an election year.  

How this affects us: 

Robin Hood Lane Health Centre is a team of fantastic people who are all very proud to be working to support our community. It is the team that makes the surgery such a great place to work and why our patients get good care.  

We understand the changes have been difficult for some, especially with the increased use of technology. We hope that those who are able to access us with technology will make way for those who can’t, so these people can contact us more easily on the telephone.  

Sadly our staff (reception in particular), who have been working so hard to support our patients with the new was of accessing care, have been receiving more abuse from some patients due to frustrations. We operate a zero tolerance approach to abuse directed towards our staff. Unacceptable behaviour is responded to with warning letters, and if behaviour continues patients are asked to leave our practice. 

Final words: 

We hugely value you, our patients. To serve you and our community is why we are all here. We think it is important that we are honest with you about what is happening, we need you to know why.  

In order to provide the service we aspire to deliver, we need increased funding from the government to account for inflation as a minimum. Until this happens, we (and all other GP surgeries in the country) will struggle to provide the service that we want to give and that you deserve. 

We will keep you up to date with any further changes at Robin Hood Lane Health Centre. We will do everything we can to continue to provide you with good quality, safe and sustainable care. However we can only offer this within the budget we are given by government. We are very grateful for all your support and understanding – we are all in this together. 

If you would like to get more involved with supporting us and helping us to shape how we evolve and develop going forward, please join our Patient Participation Group (PPG). For more information please email [email protected]

The Partners