I met with the medical and administrative staff at the Riverside Medical Practice on 6 October after a large number of complaints from residents in the area relating to the difficulty in getting appointments, especially the 8am booking system.
The staff and management team at Riverside were keen to say that they cared greatly about their patients and were worried about attacks on social media, that they caused fear and created an impression that staff didn’t care. They said that was far from the case.
The root of the cause had to do with major increase in demand due to the Pandemic, as well as the Flu Jabs. Half of flu jab appointments are dealt with by GPs in East Lothian. There are also capacity since Riverside taken over the Eskbridge practice (with 9000 patients) when it had shut in addition to the increasing population.
The lack of GPs is a national issue, not simply local, and the practise has had difficulty retaining staff and taking on new GPs. The practice management were concerned that the negative press on social media was making it difficult to recruit, and causing some resignations.
After hearing the concerns of residents and meeting with the Practise I will be speaking with the Health and Social Care Partnership. There needs to be a plan for GPs in the area – it can’t simply be left to sort itself.
The practise were very clear that they felt it was the patients who needed the support more than the practice. I agree, and will continue to work with Riverside, constituents and others to try to sort out this situation.