Statement from Dr Nazmul Ahmed at Riverside Misterton and Gringley-on-the-Hill (M&G)
Dear Misterton and Gringley patients,
I have known for some time that there are genuine concerns, and some unhelpful misinformation, in the M&G population about the practice’s future and of local GP services. I have decided now to write to inform and reassure all our patients.
Why did we need to merge with Riverside Retford?
In the two years prior to our merge with Riverside Retford in March 2018 we were struggling to maintain safe and effective services and we were in trouble.
We had two senior GP partners retire which left me as the last man standing as the sole GP partner responsible for general practice services in M&G.
Although at that time we had one salaried GP and one advanced Nurse Practitioner helping me, we went through a series of GP locums which did not provide continuity of care and were inadequate to meet the patients’ needs.
We had tried very hard for 3 years to recruit permanent GPs amid a continuing national GP recruitment crisis and we just could not attract quality candidates.
The strain personally was intolerable and could not continue.
That led me to approach Riverside Retford to explore a potential merge. They did not need to merge with us because we were not a natural fit and we were a good 10 miles away working on 2 sites with an inadequate workforce.
However Riverside Retford and myself did not want M&G practices to close and the patients to be dispersed and registered to neighbouring practices further away.
I was in no doubt that if we did not merge with Riverside Retford, I would have been forced to leave M&G practice. The merger therefore has enabled us to continue to run M&G practices and provide local services sustainably and that is important to understand.
We are now here for the long-term.
Are there any benefits from the merger for M&G patients?
The greatest benefits of the merger are these:
1.) It allowed me to remain as lead GP at M&G working in a more sustainable manner and not be totally burnt out.
2.) We merged into and are now supported by a GP and nurse training practice at Riverside Retford. This affords the opportunity to recruit quality GPs and Nurses for the future.
3.) We also now crucially have resilience (reliable back-up) and access to:
- GP, nurse and other practice staff cross-cover during annual leave, sickness, etc
- larger pool of GPs and nurses with broader clinical expertise and special interests
e.g. women’s health, palliative care, diabetes, rheumatology, minor surgery and joint injections, cardiology, ENT, medical education, wound management etc
- Dedicated practice pharmacists and medicines management team
Better summarisation of clinical notes and handling of medical correspondence, reports, emails, audit, and special projects
- More support for the Gringley dispensary and dispensers
- Technological support for website management, email communications, development of clinical text, video, and remote consultations
Since the merge, I have been proud to see regular female GPs at M&G for the very first time.
We have had women’s health clinics, and patients have benefitted and experienced expertise from GPs with specialist interest in diabetes, palliative care, minor surgery, and joint injections.
Yes, occasionally some patients have sometimes needed to travel to Retford for these, but the overwhelming feedback and experience is that patients didn’t mind the occasional extra travel to receive the expertise and care.
I can state with absolute certainty that without the merger with Riverside Retford I probably wouldn’t be still a GP at M&G and many of the above benefits would probably not have occurred.
I can also say with a clear conscience that the merge has been to the best interests of the patients of M&G.
The M&G Premises
I have been made aware that there is negative gossip that the M&G surgery premises are to be sold and that the GPs are leaving.
Yes, the premises are being sold to landlords and will be leased-back long-term to Riverside for us to continue to work from the same premises to serve the people of M&G.
Thousands of GP practices are operating similarly. All 3 of the Retford practices have buildings they rent.
So, we are not going anywhere.
My sincere wish is that we have the support of all or most of you and are allowed to help and serve our M&G population. In these difficult times for many, including ourselves in the NHS, we work better and are uplifted by positivity. Negativity and misinformation are demoralising.
Lastly the phone access has been particularly challenging, but I am positive it will improve in the coming 4-6 weeks as we await newly recruited reception care navigators as we have sadly lost quite a few staff to stress and long-term sickness. To improve on access and to ease the phone queues we have just started an email service for problems that can wait up to 3 working days for our response.
The pandemic is not over and still affecting all we do, and we really appreciate your understanding and consideration. I can assure you that my colleagues and myself have never worked harder in our professional lives and we don’t always get everything right but we aim to constantly improve our care and services for our patients and very much for the patients at Riverside M&G.
Dr Nazmul Hasan Ahmed
GP at Riverside Misterton and Gringley