A look inside Coventry GP surgery and how they work after Covid-19

Surgery in Coventry opened this morning (August 25) to address patient concerns about face-to-face appointments.

CoventryLive visited Willenhall Oak Surgery to see how they are functioning after the pandemic, how things have changed and the pressures they are under.

It comes after complaints were made that GPs do not physically see all patients, even after the perception that everything would be back to normal thanks to ‘freedom day’.

Read more: GPs respond to anger over patients struggling to see a doctor in Coventry

The practice is small with only two general practitioners, Dr Rajeev Kolluri and Dr Eirlys Williams, to handle the demand from patients wishing for face-to-face appointments.

Dr Rajeev said he had worked throughout the pandemic and answered phone calls from the office, which was open all the time.

Previous statements released by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Coventry Local Medical Committee indicate that face-to-face appointments always occur where “clinically appropriate”.

Dr Rajeev told us that the term “clinically appropriate” differs because each patient is an individual case.

He said: “An example of ‘clinically appropriate’ would be if a patient has a mental health issue and needs to see us in person.

“If someone is having a hard time and requests a face-to-face meeting, we will book them because they need reassurance.

“If it’s about refilling a drug or giving advice, we can do it over the phone.

“And as always, if we think there are certain things that need to be seen in person, we will always invite the patient.”

Dr Eirlys Williams has been a general practitioner for 10 years and said she has felt exhausted since the pandemic.

“It’s quite demoralizing when patients say ‘when are you coming back open?’

“We have been working throughout Covid and to put into perspective how busy we have been, last Wednesday we had 116 appointments, 74 with a GP and all appointments were followed.

“On the same Wednesday in 2017, we had 50 appointments, 40 with general practitioners and seven no-shows.

“A lot of people think it’s a positive change and so do we in some areas.



Willenhall Oak Surgery is a small practice with only two general practitioners

“We don’t want to go back to a time when our waiting room is packed and people wait hours to be seen.”

Dr Rajeev added: “We understand the frustration of patients, but we are doing what is right for everyone, including our staff.”

At the start of the pandemic, there were a number of ‘hot spots’ around Coventry dedicated to helping people with symptoms of Covid-19, to prevent them from undergoing normal GP surgeries.

Willenhall Oak has also helped distribute 750,000 vaccines and other practices as part of the primary care network.

“All the doctors in the hothubs were volunteering at the time, including myself, helping those with potential symptoms, who weren’t sick enough to go to the hospital but needed attention,” Dr Rajeev added.

“We are a team and want to help people who need it.”

The surgery has also seen an increase in staff abuse with receptionist Wendy Sanders telling us she receives abuse on the phone on a daily basis.

“Patients think we are preventing them from seeing the doctor when all I do is walk into my job to do my best for my patients.

“When I arrive at work and see the number of appointments available, it makes me nervous because I know how quickly they will be leaving.



The British Medical Association (BMA) has started handing out posters for the surgeries in hopes that patients will support more of the current times
The British Medical Association (BMA) has started handing out posters for the surgeries in hopes that patients will support more of the current times

“We follow the procedure given to us by general practitioners but when patients cannot get an appointment, we are the first point of them to communicate that they are not happy.

“We’ve all had a tough year, we don’t need to come to work and have this.”

Practice manager Carrie Dickinson reassured patients that the surgery is open and wants to let patients and Coventry residents know that GPs are working around the clock to keep up with the demand and ensure that all world is getting the care it needs.

“We are not trying to turn away patients, we are trying to manage the demand.”

The British Medical Association (BMA) is currently working to distribute posters to publicize the current status of general practitioners and ask patients to support them during this difficult time.

The BMA has also set up a petition to help provide more funding and commitment to help meet the demand, which you can sign. here.

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