A shortage of GPs on the coast has forced a doctors’ surgery to cut appointments and refuse some temporary patients.
Beacon Medical Practice, which has branches in Skegness, Ingoldmells and Chapel St Leonards, has warned patients that only urgent medical conditions would be seen after noon each day. All other patients will be deferred to the following day.
Patient Participation Group chairman Richard Enderby feels the situation is concerning but is assured the practice staff are doing all they can to resolve the problem.
“We’ve always known that recruiting doctors in this area is a horrendous problem,” he said.
“All of the patient groups across the area have been concerned for sometime that it could result in doctors becoming burnt out as they try to keep up with demand.”
Recruiting skilled positions has historically always been more difficult in coastal areas due to their remoteness and poor transportation links.
The newly appointed practice manager Cathy Brockwell has explained that an unexpected illness with one of the doctors combined with another moving jobs has added to that problem, necessitating the cuts to routine appointments.
Ms Brockwell says the decision to inform patients about the situation was to demonstrate a greater transparency, which the practice felt would alleviate concerns better than any attempt to cover up the problem.
“We are trying to keep patients informed and hopefully this will waylay any fears,” she said.
Lincolnshire county Council’s ward holder for Ingoldmells Rural, Coun Davie says he is concerned that the shortage has hit at such a busy time of year.
“I am of course concerned to hear about these issues but I am comforted in the reassurances given that anyone who has an urgent need to see their GP will not be disadvantaged.
“I think we all recognise the high increased seasonal demand placed on our surgeries and we need to find a proper long term solution so our doctors can be available to us as and when we need them.”
Mr Enderby has urged patients not to worsen the problem by booking appointments that they do not attend.
Having seen ‘scandalous’ statistics about the number of ‘did not attends’ affecting the practice, he fears such needless waste of an already stretched resource cannot be tolerated.
“At a time when the surgeries are under intense pressure to meet the demand and make sure everyone who needs to can be seen by a doctor, 693 appointments were wasted as the person did not arrive at the surgery.
“The Group was advised this equated to over 8,300 minutes (Nearly 140 hours) of doctor’s time, and translated into financial terms to the Practice it would also fund additional doctors.”
Ms Brockwell sad she had received a number of encouraging responses to the vacancies and hoped to have the positions filled soon.