Under-pressure medical centre warns patients ‘it is not always possible to provide everything that everyone would ideally want’

Sheringham Health Centre.

Sheringham Health Centre. - Credit: Archant © 2004

A medical centre in an area with one of the biggest elderly demographics in Norfolk revealed it is struggling to cope with demand from patients.

And now it has taken the unusual move of appealing to them to think twice before booking an appointment in future.

Sheringham Medical Practice has introduced a new call system in a bid to relieve its workload, which includes redirecting patients to their local pharmacy, asking secretaries to provide sick notes and telephone consultations.

In a letter to patients, Keith Cameron, chairman of Sheringham Medical Practice Patient Participation Group (PPG), said: 'You will all be aware from newspaper and television coverage, the NHS, including general practice, is coming under increased pressure. This is particularly true in Sheringham where we have a very elderly population with increasing health needs.

'In recent months, the practice has been inundated with calls to speak to a doctor, resulting in high pressure on the system and longer waits for appointments.

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'The practice and PPG have worked closely together to work out how best to deal with these issues. We have decided that in order to ensure that all patients get the best attention possible and are dealt with as quickly and appropriately as possible, calls need to be handled slightly differently.

'In revising this system we have tried to take account of any difficulties brought to our attention. However, it is important to understand that it is not always possible to provide everything that everyone would ideally want.'

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Patients unhappy with the new arrangements have been told they still have the right to request a face to face appointment.

Mr Cameron added: 'We have tried to ensure that the way the system works gives the patient the best possible service we can.'

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