Chairman of health watchdog responds to GP plans

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The chairman of a health watchdog group has responded to changes to an appointment system at a doctors’ surgery.

Oakham Medical Practice in Cold Overton Road is introducing a new way of making appointments from Monday, November 19.

Under the new system, patients will call the surgery and receive a call back from a doctor, who will either diagnose the problem over the phone or make an appointment.

At the moment, patients could face a wait of up to 10 days for non-emergency appointments but it is hoped the new system will mean patients can be seen quicker.

Uppingham Surgery has been trialling the same system in the afternoons since July and is planning on rolling it out fully in December.

Kathy Reynolds is chairman of Rutland Local Involvement Network, known as Rutland Link. The group gives people the chance to have their say on health and social care services.

Mrs Reynolds met with GPs at Oakham Medical Practice, which also consulted Rutland MP Alan Duncan, Rutland County Council and Oakham Town Council on the change.

Mrs Reynolds said: “In theory I think the change of system should be a positive move. I have seen the results from where other practices have made the move and it has been positive, so I hope it will be equally well-received in Oakham.

“Rutland Link carried out a survey in the summer about GP practices and I would say there was a significant proportion of disappointment about the length of time it took to get an appointment.

“Hopefully the move at Oakham and indeed Uppingham will have positive benefits and improve that situation.”

Mrs Reynolds said she was disappointed that Oakham Medical Practice had not taken up her suggestion to write to its 16,000 patients about the change.

Instead it is advertising the changes with a campaign in the surgery.

Mrs Reynolds said: “This is a major change for the patients.

“Patients coming into the surgery regularly will perhaps know about the changes but my concern is for people who don’t regularly come in and will call in six months time. It is a big change but hopefully it will be positive.”

Oakham Medical Practice said the changes were being made in response to patients complaining it was difficult to get an appointment when they wanted one.