Practice News

Practice Improvements - Update April 2024

Dear Patient,

Over the past year we have worked hard on our commitment to improve patient accessibility and communications. Overall, the feedback on our upgraded telephone system has been positive, and we have welcomed hearing your feedback on how this has improved your experience of contacting us by telephone.

We have looked at innovative ways to reduce call volumes and therefore call waiting times. One such initiative has been to send self-booking links via text message to patients requiring annual reviews for long-term conditions as well as for routine immunisations and screening tests. This allows patients to click on the link to choose a convenient date and time to attend the practice for their appointment. This has been very popular with patients, but it does rely on us having up to date mobile numbers on patient records. We would encourage you to provide us with a contact mobile number if you have not already done so. If you click on the link and it says no appointments are available, please do try again later as we open new appointments as the clinics get filled. Please note that the booking link expires after 7 days.

Last year, staff volunteers removed the tired children’s play area in the waiting room, gave the walls a lick of paint, and we mounted new noticeboards. The boards are themed so that patients can easily find the information they are looking for. We have a dedicated member of staff who keeps the boards up to date with important information and patient resources.

Have you spotted the new “Charlton Medical Centre” sign on the front of the building? We are proud of who we are and what we have to offer, so the old plastic letters have been removed and replaced with fresh, modern lettering.

Now, let’s talk about the potholes…… yes, they are driving us crazy too if you will excuse the pun. We have received numerous grumbles about the state of the carpark and the potholes which are causing significant upset to both patients and staff alike. You may not be aware, but Charlton Medical Practice does not own the building or the premises. Both Charlton Medical Practice and the Oakengates Pharmacy (not affiliated to Charlton Medical Practice) hold independent lease contracts with Assura. We reported the pothole situation to our landlord Assura and these were repaired in February 2022. Unfortunately, the contracted work was substandard, and the potholes worsened again. We reported this to our landlord Assura who assured us that they would investigate. We re-escalated the issue to our Assura property manager in December 2023 and they attended for a site visit on 31st January 2024. Hereco Maintenance Ltd have been contracted to repair the potholes and we are awaiting confirmation of the date for commencement of the work. This will likely cause some disruption and we ask for your patience whilst the repairs are being done.

As with any organisation, we have seen some changes to our wonderful, dedicated team. Some staff have retired and some had left for new adventures, but we have welcomed new members to our team. Our administrative team has grown so you may be greeted by a new smile at the Reception desk, or hear a new voice answering the telephone and assisting you with your query. Please do be patient with our new team members as they learn the ropes. They may need to ask a colleague to help them if they are unsure and this is important so that you get the correct advice and support. There have been some changes to our clinical team too. Dr Blower has left us to pursue his career at a training practice, and we wish him all the best in this adventure. We are welcoming Dr Olaosun and Dr Bourne to our team in May and June respectively. Our HCA Emma Colley has returned to working at the hospital and we have welcomed Amie Jones as our new HCA. We hope that you will enjoy meeting these new team members.

And finally, our new website….it has taken a huge amount of time and effort to transfer the information over from the old site. There are still some things that need to be tweaked, but we hope you will agree that it is much more user friendly and allows us share information in a clearer way. Thank you to those of you that have embraced our request to complete your annual review questionnaires online. The online forms reduce the need for you to print and return them to the practice as we can receive them electronically instead.

So, a lot of positive change and lot still to look forward to at Charlton. Thank you once again for all your lovely feedback and constructive suggestions. We will continue to work hard to make your experiences with us as positive as we can.

Yours Sincerely

Carrie Anne Wood

Practice Manager



Dear Patient,

During the Covid-19 pandemic many practices moved towards a telephone appointment system. Over the past 6 months we have been actively monitoring patient feedback and have also carefully considered the results of the most recent GP Patient Survey. We took part in the NHSE General Practice Improvement Programme (GPIP), signing up to the Intermediate Support package, during which time we gathered and analysed data with the aim towards improving our service delivery to our patients.

The GPIP works with practices to move towards the NHSE Modern General Practice Model. One of the findings of our GPIP was that we have limitations in what we can change because of not being in a local Primary Care Network (PCN). A PCN is a group of practices that can access additional funding and resources. After two years of discussions, we are no closer to be being able to join a PCN and we have had to look an innovative ways to maximise our resources, staffing and limited space.

Over the past couple of months, we have gradually introduced changes which we hope have brought improvement to patient experience in accessing appointments at Charlton. Although it took longer to get up and running due to IT issues, and there were a few teething problems in the beginning, the introduction of our upgraded telephone Call Back System has been welcomed by both patients and staff alike. We have had very positive feedback from those that have used the new system. The option of a call back without losing their place in the queue, allows patients to continue with other things without needing to hang on the phone listening to repeated music and messages. The call back system operates during our peak telephone times of 8.30am-10.30am and 2pm-3.30pm. We are grateful for your patience whilst we ironed out the creases to get this system fully functional and whilst we provided our Reception team with the training required to operate the new system.

Another change which you will have noticed is that we have been steadily moving our GP appointment books back to a predominantly face-to-face model. We appreciate that many will have got used to the option of a telephone appointment, but we have listened to patient feedback through the GP Patient Survey and the media in general and have taken the decision to move our GP appointments back to face-to-face. As a result, you may find the waiting rooms busier at times and we would like to draw your attention to the upstairs waiting room which has a quiet area for patients that struggle with sensory overload. PLEASE NOTE: If you are using the online appointment booking system, these appointments are face-to-face and you are expected to attend the surgery for your appointment. You will not be offered the alternative of a telephone appointment.

If you ring the practice for an on the day appointment, our Reception Team will ask you some simple triage questions. They have been trained to ask these questions so that they can book you an appropriate appointment or direct you to an alternative service such as the Community Pharmacy Consultation Scheme, 111 or A&E should this be suitable. Please note that our Reception Team are only able to book the appointments that are available. They cannot “squeeze in” extra appointments as our clinical team need to work safely within the time they have available to provide good patient care. Our Reception Team will not be able to offer telephone appointments instead of face-to-face appointments. Our housebound patients are reminded that you need to request a home visit BEFORE 11am for a home visit to be allocated, if the request is considered appropriate and you are considered housebound by the surgery.

We have been fortunate to be able to recruit 6 new administrative team members over the past 6 months, and we have 3 administrative vacancies on NHS Jobs which we are confident we will fill. We ask our patients to be considerate to those that are in training. It may take them longer to find the answers to queries as they are learning how to navigate our systems and processes. This is a reminder that we will not tolerate any abuse of our staff (verbal or physical) and any incidents will be fully investigated and our Zero Tolerance policy will be rigorously adhered to.

We will continuously monitor and review the changes we have introduced alongside feedback we receive, and we may need to make further adjustments to the appointment system.

It is our hope that you will embrace the changes we have introduced and that there will be further improvements to the service we are delivering and the patient experience. We welcome constructive feedback which we can use to bring about further positive changes where required. We also love to be able to share good news stories and positive experiences amongst our team, so please do feed these back to us too.


Yours Sincerely

Carrie Anne Wood

Practice Manager