Tonbridge Medical Group Statement

Dear patients,
 
Unfortunately, patient demand is often exceeding what we can safely meet and manage within the practice.
As the average number of appointments per patient per year continues to increase, the government promised to provide 6000 extra GPs nationally. However, over the past 3 years, we now have 1800 fewer full-time equivalent GPs. This has been disastrous for general practice and patients.
Throughout the pandemic, we have endeavoured to provide the best service that we can. We have done this despite having to manage with fewer staff because of shielding, self-isolating and illness. We have managed patients following national guidelines, initially telephone triaging everyone, but over time we have gradually offered more face-to-face appointments. If ever we feel anyone needs a face-to-face appointment, we always endeavour to arrange that. We continue to work more hours than we are contracted to, with increasing paperwork, protocols to follow, targets to meet, movement of care from secondary to primary care, and providing cover at covid assessment centres and covid vaccination clinics. 
 
All doctors working at the practice are very conscientious, and have undergone many years of training to provide the best skilled level of care that they can. They chose to be in this profession to care for people. At these difficult times, we want to be able to see, and care for the patients that really need to see us. It will help us enormously if you could try to support us to offer the best care that we can for all of our patients.
 
  • We offer pre-bookable appointments and eConsults to aim to offer continuity of care. Please try to use these rather than call on the same day for consultations for problems that are not urgent.
 
  • For urgent problems, we try to offer appointments on the same day. Please call after 10am if your problem is not urgent, to keep telephone lines free. If you have an urgent problem, but our urgent care/duty doctor is fully booked, we may ask you to call 111 or attend A&E. (This is to enable us to provide safe care to those patients that are already booked in)
 
  • If you request a home visit for someone that is housebound and unwell, please call us before 11am 
 
  • For illnesses that are self-limiting, or minor, please manage them yourselves or seek advice on nhs.uk website or with a local pharmacist 
  • For some minor injuries, you can attend Sevenoaks minor injuries unit 
 
  • If you suspect that you have covid, please arrange a PCR test. If you are unwell with suspected covid and feel that you need a consultation, please ask for a telephone triage call first. If you need a face-to-face appointment, we will see you our covid room, and make sure that you avoid the waiting room
  • If you are immunosuppressed, and unwell, always remind us and ask for a telephone triage call first. If you need a face-to-face appointment, we will arrange this at the safest time.
 
  • For counselling, addiction support, smoking cessation and weight management, you can always self-refer to NHS funded agencies, including ‘We are with you’, ‘Live Well Kent’, and CYPMHS for children. At times of crisis, you can always contact The Samaritans or the crisis team at A&E.
 
  • For prescription queries please try to contact our prescription clerks (option 4 on the phone line) 
  • If you are due an annual review for a chronic disease, a cervical smear or immunisations, please call to arrange these.
 
  • To chase outstanding hospital referrals, outpatient appointments and results, please contact the hospital yourselves. 
 
Thank you in advance for helping us to continue to provide the best care that we can
 
TMG Partners and Practice Manager