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Opinion: GPs really need to up their game





Patients across Fenland have rated their GP surgeries, and whilst the results are not completely damning, they are not exactly glowing either.

At one practice only a quarter of those who took the time to complete the NHS England’s annual survey, said they had confidence in their doctor.

That is a worryingly low figure. After all if you can’t have faith in your GP when you are ill and at your most vulnerable what else can you do.

Clarkson Surgery in Wisbech.
Clarkson Surgery in Wisbech.

Receptionists, the butt of many a Facebook rant, were also not overly highly rated either – with the exception of North Brink Surgery in Wisbech where 92% of patients said their’s were helpful.

A lot of patients felt that whilst they were treated with “care and concern” by their GP, they didn’t necessarily feel they were listened to.

Now I know doctors are under a huge amount of pressure, they’re simply is not enough of them to treat the number of people we have living here in Fenland.

Riverside Practice in March.
Riverside Practice in March.

Attracting GPs to our area is a challenge, for some reason they don’t want to move to Fenland, and that is something that really needs properly addressing.

However, as it has been stated many times on social media it is now hugely difficult to get a doctor’s appointment and to actually be seen by one in person, rather than have a chat with them over the phone, is even harder.

What has changed since the pre-pandemic days, I don’t really know. Before covid it might occasionally have been difficult to get an appointment, but since lockdown it has become worryingly so.

Manea Surgery is part of the Fenland Group Practice.
Manea Surgery is part of the Fenland Group Practice.

Personally I don’t understand why a doctor can find the time to call you for a chat, but can’t find almost the same amount of time to see you face to face in the surgery.

An appointment over the phone is not ideal, you might not always hear exactly what is being said and the doctor on the other end may miss the nuances they would pick up when facing a patient, which could lead them to ask a more relevant question and gain a more accurate picture of what the patient is really trying to say.

If a doctor can find 10 minutes to call you, then surely they can find that same 10 minutes within their surgery.

George Clare Surgery in Chatteris.
George Clare Surgery in Chatteris.

The fact the survey showed so many people are unhappy with how they are being treated suggests things need to be seriously looked at.

The phone call triage system that the receptionists operate often makes people feel resentful towards them, after all they do have an awful lot of power and are basically the gatekeepers to our GPs.

Again I know they are under a lot of pressure, but are they really qualified to determine who needs an appointment and who doesn’t. because let’s face it not all patients want to give all their personal details to someone who answers the phone. The majority of people hate going to the doctors, so if they are calling for an appointment then the likelihood is they need one.

I understand there are people who abuse the system and call up for any minor ailment, but I would say they are the minority.

GPs need to up their game, because they are the custodians of our health and well-being, people should be able to have faith in them, feel listened to and go away happy in the knowledge they have been treated with the care and concern they deserve.

When a survey shows large proportions of people are unhappy and are not feeling those things then something is wrong somewhere…

New data from the Office of National Statistics have shown that our young people’s educational attainment level is well below the national average.

The same figures show the correlation between deprivation and poor education outcomes. Those same outcomes are also linked to the attainment level achieved by parents and grandparents.

So it is not really surprising that Fenland comes out below average. Some parts of our area have some of the worst levels of poverty and deprivation in the country.

It has been that way for donkeys years, and until that problem is addressed it is highly unlikely that our young people are going to do better when the next round of statistics are published…

Finally I doubt there is no one out there that has not dreamt of finding treasure, whether it’s a lost art masterpiece on sale at a car boot for 50p, or something Great Aunt Nell had tucked away in her attic.

But the biggest dream for treasure hunters has surely got to be finding that elusive pot of gold, or amazing piece of jewellery lost eons ago just laying there waiting to be found.

A new detectorist group set up in Fenland is open to members who fancy having a go at doing just that.

All you need is a metal detector, spade and a few hours to walk a field or two (with the landowners’ permission of course) – and who knows what you might unearth when your detector starts beeping...



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