A TOP GP has appealed for patients to be patient after revealing he was seeing almost 50 every day a fifth more than usual.
Dr Richard Cullen, chair of The Rotherham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said he and other GPs were trying their best to keep up with demand, which he said was “really high” across all NHS services.
He said GPs were trying to support patients while overseeing Covid and flu vaccination programmes.
“We’ve been really busy, much like Rotherham Hospital and seeing a very high demand for our services,” added Dr Cullen.
“Things are as busy now as we’d usually see by mid-winter and we remain stretched, but are still continuing to provide staff to help with the Covid clinics and flu vaccines.
“On top of my usual work, I am seeing an extra six to eight patients each day to try and keep up with the demand.
“We are all trying to keep on top of the situation and most people who need urgent health assistance see just two options contacting a GP or going up to Rotherham’s A&E.”
Dr Cullen said it was difficult to plan for the winter period ahead, but added as people started to mingle more, flu cases were likely to rise.
“It’s important for people to remember that wearing a mask is still very useful as it doesn’t just help to stop the spread of Covid-19 it also helps to stop the spread of flu,” he added.
Dr Cullen said GPs across Rotherham were trying to get this year’s flu jabs given to those who need them as quickly as possible to help keep their patients protected and ease their own winter workload.
He added: “We are in the process of employing extra staff to help with the winter pressures, which include physiotherapists and mental health workers, so people need to understand it won’t always be a GP that they see.”
Patience was required when ringing a GP, said Dr Cullen, adding that while Rotherham’s practices do have the phone systems in place to cope with demand, they do not always have the bodies to answer them, as a result of staff illness.
“Staff at our practices have been through difficult times and after a difficult 18 months they are tired,” said Dr Cullen.
“But our practices are very good at offering in-house support we all look after each other as best we can.
“We are all trying our best to continue to keep up with the demand on our services, but we ask that patients be kind and have a little patience.”
Dr Cullen said the constant demand for services was a reflection on the pressure being felt by the whole system, adding: “We are always busy, although we have managed to catch up a little with patient reviews.
“We’re still a little bit behind, but we are managing.”