Patient says GP practice in Bradford on Avon is ‘worst she has ever known’

A resident of Bradford on Avon claims her local GP practice is the worst that she’s ever used.

Alex Klaushofer says the service at the Bradford on Avon and Melksham Health Partnership, which runs her local health centre, is slowly deteriorating.

But the partnership has defended its patient services and says it has introduced new systems to take the pressure off its telephone booking for appointments.

Ms Klaushofer, of Woolley Street, said: “I’m generally a well person and don’t use the NHS much, but on the few occasions I’ve had cause to seek help over the past four years, I’ve found it to be the worst GP practice I’ve ever used.

“My experience includes by told by a receptionist they wouldn’t deal with me after I’d collapsed alone at home and spent three-quarters of an hour crawling to my phone.

“Recently a GP made a mistake in my prescription and ignored my pleas to address it, leaving me without the medication I needed.

“In the four years I’ve lived here I’ve only ever seen one GP face-to-face, and that because the practice manager decided I was due for a ‘review’.

“The practice’s new appointments system is making many locals feel that it is difficult to get access to healthcare.”

Ms Klaushofer says she has “lost confidence” in the partnership’s ability to tackle the issues.

The partnership’s latest patient survey for August shows that, while a combined 92 per cent of patients are ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to recommend the practice to others, most complaints are still about its telephone booking system for appointments.

Ellen Wilson, the partnership’s business manager, says the situation is improving following changes in staffing levels and administration procedures.

Earlier this year, the partnership said: “Bradford on Avon & Melksham Health Partnership, along with other local surgeries in our area are experiencing unprecedented demand for appointments.

“A growing number of these surgeries (for example; Frome, Giffords and Pultney Street), like ourselves, have moved to telephone consultation led approaches, in an attempt to manage patient safety, unprecedented demand for GP appointments and a shortage of GPs.

“We appreciate that the new system is not ideal for all of our patients and know that patient safety is something which is causing concern amongst the local community.

“The partners feel that this appointment system keeps patients safe, with all urgent on-the-day patients assessed by a clinician.

“We have a great team who have high standards and we absolutely want to provide the outstanding levels of service that we have been recognised for in the past. We are all working extremely hard, in challenging circumstances.


“In response to the patient complaints we are making two interventions in line with the NHS Long Term Plan of a digitally-enabled Primary Care.

“We are encouraging patients to download three applications – NHS App, TPP online and MJOG – to draw volume away from our telephone lines to allow patients who prefer not to use digital technology to get through on the phones.

“Benefits of these apps include being able to make and cancel appointments as well as managing your repeat prescriptions.

“We are also running a pilot using an online tool called ‘Doctor Link’ which will advise patients on how to best manage their symptoms or see the right healthcare service to suit their needs.

“This may result in the patient being directed to their local pharmacy or other healthcare professional.

“If an appointment with their doctor, practice or emergency nurse is advised the BoAMHP Contact Centre Staff will call the patient back to make the appropriate appointment.

“If patients would like to take part in this pilot they can ask to do so at the Bradford on Avon Health Centre.

“There is no plan to make the mandatory for all patients to use, however we do hope that this will take volume off our phone lines.”

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    • Last time I experienced this the queue outside the BoA Health Centre before the doors opened told a very different story. A line of many people, often elderly, forced to queue up for that day’s appointments in the short interval between the doors and the phone lines opening because they simply can’t get through on the phone. An elderly and infirm lady in front of me suffering the indignity of having to very publicly beg the staff for a nurse to look at a minor injury because, on her own, she simply couldn’t get to Trowbridge hospital. Truly shocking – more like a something from a developing or old Eastern Block country than the UK. And I couldn’t get an appointment on-line either at the time – even first thing in the morning. Maybe if I’d stayed up until midnight when they are released on TPP Online – just what you need when you are sick.

    • Part of the problem appears to be the shockingly poor phone system which either rings without answer, is engaged or (worse) disconnects numbers that have called before just a short way into the introductory menu. Flat battery, lost signal, interrupted (many of us are trying to call from work) or even just calling before the lines open and you can’t get through again. Withhold your number and you can – but only once, try from another line (that you’ve not used before) and you might get another chance. I complained about this a month ago (and even demonstrated what happens over the phone using my other line.

      As of today it STILL doesn’t appear to be fixed.

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