Eltham Medical Practice is a GP practice with two branches, one located in Eltham Hospital, Passey Place and the other on Well Hall road. They have approximately 16,000 registered patients across both practices. We spoke to 9 patients at Well Hall Road.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out an unannounced comprehensive inspection of Eltham Medical Practice at Well Hall Road on 17 May 2017. They rated the surgery as ‘Good’ overall, across the areas of; safety, effectiveness, care, responsiveness and leadership.
Summary of findings
The surgery is set in a large, pleasant-looking building on a busy main road. It is well signposted, and the outside of the surgery is clean and well-kept. However, the wall in front of the surgery is damaged. There are dedicated parking spaces for disabled visitors, but other visitors must find parking in nearby side streets.
The surgery is wheelchair accessible as the path leading to it from the road is flat and unobstructed. It is clear where to approach on arrival as there is signage towards the reception area, and there is an electronic check-in station available for use before you enter the waiting room.
Waiting for an appointment
Reception staff were pleasant and welcoming on our arrival and introduced themselves in a helpful and friendly way. There is ample comfortable seating in the reception area, and the surgery had a warm, welcoming atmosphere. There is an electronic call system in use: a tv at the front of the room alerts patients when it is their turn to see the clinician and which room to enter, along with a call bell. There were noticeboards, which were themed, and leafletstands. These were all tidy and presented relevant and up to date information on different health issues and vaccines, for example. There was also a tv in the corner which was displaying health and wellbeing advice. Online booking for appointments is clearly advertised near the main reception desk, with forms available to sign-up to the service. The waiting area was felt to be child friendly, as there was a small play area for children which had stools around it, although there was only one toy available to play with. The waiting area had a toilet which was clearly signposted to and which was accessible, clean and had hand sanitiser. We were pleased to see that translation services were being advertised in the waiting area, although the sign was small and could be easily missed by patients. The surgery’s most recent CQC rating was on display inside the surgery.
There was limited privacy in the waiting area as the reception desk is placed very close to the seating, with no separation or privacy slips available. A hearing loop was installed in the surgery, but it was not well advertised. There were no hand sanitisers in the waiting area, although there was one in the toilet. We did not see information provided in any other formats, such as translated into other languages or easy-read. Finally, waiting times and delays were not advertised in the waiting area
Ways to feedback
There was no comments or feedback box easily visible in the waiting area. The surgery’s Patient Participation Group (PPG) was advertised, however, on the noticeboard in the reception area.
Access and hygiene
Most patients we spoke to were happy with the surgery’s opening hours. Six told us they thought they were either very good or excellent, and only one felt that the opening hours were unsatisfactory. Everyone we spoke to on the day felt that access to the surgery via transport or by walking to the surgery was simple, and some patients commented that having two branches to the surgery (Well Hall and Passey Place) made it more accessible. Similarly, all the patients we spoke to felt that the cleanliness and hygiene of the surgery was very good or excellent.
Appointment booking and punctuality
The patients we spoke to on the day gave a mixed view of how easy it is to book appointments at the surgery. One person told us it was very poor, while another eight told us the booking systems were good, very good or excellent. Although most patients were satisfied with the with the service, three people did comment that appointments were hard to get sooner than two weeks in advance: ‘the surgery needs to improve on this, immense waiting times; about two weeks, it’s a struggle to get an appointment’.
Similarly, we received mixed feedback about the punctuality of appointments from the patients we spoke to; three patients rated this as poor or very poor, while another six rated it as good or very good. We heard that delays in appointment times can vary between ten and forty-five minutes, and on the day we visited there were delays of up to forty minutes. One patient told us this is a ‘recurring issue’, although another felt that it was a ‘one off- usually, they’re pretty on time’. (The practice manager later confirmed that the delay that day was unusual and due to a member of clinical staff unexpectedly calling in sick.)
Treatment received by staff
Everyone we spoke to rated their GP at the surgery as good, very good or excellent. However, two patients did tell us that it would be more helpful to see the same GP consistently, and one patient felt that she 7 Healthwatch Greenwich www.healthwatchgreenwich.co.uk 0208 301 8340 was never seen for more than five minutes by the GP. Similarly, seven of the patients we spoke to felt that treatment received by the nurses was either very good or excellent.
Involvement in decision making and information provision
Everyone we spoke to was happy with how involved they were in the clinical decisions made about their care. We were told that the clinical staff ‘always ask for input’, and ‘don’t tell me what to do’. Likewise, patients were happy with the amount of information they were receiving from clinical staff. They rated it good to excellent; patients told us that staff ‘explain things repeatedly’, and that appointment information can be received online or through texts. It was disappointing that only one person we spoke to had heard of the surgery’s Patient Participation Group.
Medication and prescriptions
Eight patients were happy with the ease if getting prescriptions and medication, rating it as either very good or excellent and commenting that it was ‘convenient’; ‘very easy’ and that it can be done online or through a repeat prescription through the pharmacist.
Everyone we spoke to rated the GP surgery as either good, very good or excellent for overall quality, care, treatment and service received. Comments included: ‘I’ve been here twenty years, my children are also with the GP, and I’ve had no problem at all’ and ‘[the surgery] is very good, I’m very happy with the surgery’. However, one person did note that ‘the main issue is actually getting an appointment. The GP itself is good but the time spent waiting for an appointment is very long, very poor, and the GP doesn’t have any displays of the actual time of the appointment’.