Circuit Lane patients describe ‘greatly improved’ services under new management

Posted 22/07/2018

Circuit Lane Surgery patients have described dramatic improvements since a local NHS practice took over the day-to-day running of the practice, in a patient feedback survey by Healthwatch Reading staff.

We spoke with 39 people in the waiting room of Circuit Lane in Southcote, during our visit on 21 June 2018 to check people’s experiences since the surgery was taken over on 1 April 2018 by the Western Elms practice, which also runs a large surgery on the Oxford Rd.

Our patient feedback report, published on 20 July 2018, shows:

  • 84% of people we spoke to felt there had been positive changes since 1 April, including 20 people who agreed it had ‘improved a great deal’
  • 58% of people had found it easy to make appointments since 1 April and on the day of our visit, 55% had been given a same-day appointment
  • nearly three-quarters felt that they were due to see a health professional best suited to their needs.

‘Overall the services have improved greatly – doctors are here more regularly and can get to see the same one – not like before,’ one patient told us. Another said: ‘Much improved since Western Elms took over, it was all higgledy piggledy before…’ and another person noted: ‘The surgery is much tidier and cleaner and the staff are very helpful’.

However we did find that people still felt repeat prescription requests were taking longer than the expected 48 hours. In its response to our findings, Western Elms said it was confident they processed prescriptions in time, and that patients’ perceptions could be due to information given to patients by pharmacies that managed repeat requests on their behalf.  ‘We would like to thank all of the patients for embracing the changes that we have made so far and promise that we will continue to improve day by day,’ added Lisa Trimble, practice manager.

Western Elms took over from a Leeds-based company, OneMedicalGroup, after OneMedicalGroup’s 10-year contract to run Circuit Lane (and Priory Avenue Surgery in Caversham) was ended after just 19 months due to patient concerns and quality inspections that put the surgery in ‘special measures’ due to unsafe care.

When Healthwatch Reading last officially visited Circuit Lane, in May 2017, 58% of people said they could not book an appointment for their preferred day, 35% found it ‘difficult’ to make an appointment, and half of people lacked confidence they were due to see the correct health professional. People at the time had told us: ‘It is now impossible to get appointment on day, you can’t even get one when you queue from 7.30am and it is impossible to get through on phone’ and ‘I don’t like seeing a different doctor each time’.

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