Published: 00:01, 12 January 2018 |
The Coach House practice in Canterbury Road closed on January 2, with its 5,000 patients absorbed by Park Surgery in King’s Road and Herne and Broomfield Surgery in Broomfield Road.
But patients have complained of waits of more than an hour over the phone to book an appointment, others being cut off completely, queues for prescriptions starting outside the door and delayed appointments.
It led to the merger being branded a “disaster” and “chaotic” with the two sites now looking after a combined 22,000 patients.
But GPs have urged calm, saying the problems are not down to the merger but a major technical glitch caused by a power cut on January 3 – just 24 hours into the new set-up.
Dr Jeremy Carter, executive partner at the combined surgeries, said: “A lot of people are mixing two issues. That power cut took out the whole of the IT system and telephone lines at the Broomfield surgery.
“That wasn’t up and running until Monday and would have created problems regardless of the merger.”
The issue forced the staff at the Park Surgery to manage the computers for both sites.
The difficulties were exacerbated by delays in constructing additional consultation rooms, parking and office spaces at both of the surgeries. That work is expected to be completed by the end of the month.
Dr Carter said: “The merger has gone as well as we would have liked given the constraints that we’ve had.
“Because we’ve had building work there are fewer parking spaces, but it’s not going to be like that for too much longer.”
Four more GPs have been hired across the two sites.
Dr Titilade Oyewole-Eletu and members of the Coach House reception staff also moved over.
“We’re relatively over-staffed now,” Dr Carter added. “We’ve got the same number of staff as pre-merger because everyone from Coach House has come across, so the service patients would have had there has carried on.”
The merger was forced by the retirement of two GPs at Coach House, leaving just Dr Oyewole-Eletu and 5,000 patients.
Natalie Boyton, a member of the Park’s patient representative group, urged people not to panic.
“Obviously with a merger of this scale there are going to be teething problems, but the surgeries are absolutely fantastic and so well run,” she said.
“Those coming across from Coach House can be reassured that they will receiving the best care possible from the most incredible doctors.”
The issues come at a time when the surgeries have been tackling a backlog of prescriptions and appointments from the festive period and amid concerns over H3N2, otherwise known as Aussie flu.
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