Summary of report content
Healthwatch Tameside decided to undertake research into what patients thought about Ashton Medical Group, a new surgery formed from a merger of 3 practices in 2018. The data used in this report was collected between June and September 2019 from 94 people.
A majority of the people who were using Ashton Medical Group on the days Healthwatch Tameside visited, or who provided feedback in other ways between June and September 2019, had concerns they wanted to share. However, whatever they felt needed improving, most people praised the staff across the practice.
The main area of concern was the difficulty people had in making an appointment. Healthwatch Tameside have been told by Ashton Medical Group that changes have been made to the telephone system, and it is being monitored closely. Additional staff have also been employed. This is expected to improve patient experience, by reducing the waiting time when calling the practice. These changes do not appear to have been noticed yet by the people we spoke to. As the changes begin to take effect, to start with people may assume they were just lucky, rather than seeing the shorter waiting time as the norm.
Communication has possibly played a part in the dissatisfaction among patients. Some people say they have not received enough (or any) information about the merger and the changes made during the following months. Some people told Healthwatch Tameside that they still get confused about where to go and what to do.
The feedback about repeat prescriptions is mixed. It is not clear why for many people this ‘goes smoothly’, but for others there are delays and/or errors in what has been prescribed. It is clear from the responses to the final question about a proposal for group appointments, that some people are open to try new ideas, but others do not like to change from what they have always known.
How can the patient experience be improved for both groups of people? Ashton Medical Group know that they still have some way to go before the changes of the past 18 months, and those that are still to come, can be seen to be working. From previous work, Healthwatch Tameside have seen that it takes a long time for people to forget about a poor experience and remember the improvements. The expectations people have can be quite different too.
A number of recommendations were made covering the following areas:
- Making an appointment
- Reception and waiting area
- Online access