Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Tollgate Medical Centre in Newham today (24 July) to hear first-hand how the practice and primary care services across north east London are continuing to provide high-quality healthcare throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Johnson and his team, along with East Ham MP Stephen Timms, discussed the challenges faced by local health and social care services and some of the innovative ways these are being addressed across the patch.
GP Managing Partner at Tollgate Medical Centre Dr Laura Scott said: “It was great to welcome the Prime Minister and his team to the practice. We discussed our innovative online triage system, which has reduced waiting times for appointments and means that when appropriate, people can consult with a doctor without leaving their home or taking time off work. This greater flexibility is positive for patients and my colleagues. Patients who have phone or video consultations, or are seen in a face to face appointment can now have a longer consultation with their GP if needed.”
The new online triage system was introduced before the pandemic but the challenges of dealing with Covid-19 gave the practice a renewed focus. Patient experience, care and outcomes have dramatically improved since the new system was introduced, with most people receiving a response within a few hours rather than having to wait up to three to four weeks for an appointment with their doctor.
Selina Douglas, Managing Director for Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Newham CCGs said: “It is fantastic that staff at Tollgate Medical Centre had the opportunity to discuss the impact covid-19 is having on the practice and its patients, as well as some of the challenges facing health and social care services in east London.
“Across our area we are seeing some really innovative approaches to improving patient care and it is great to see these getting the recognition they deserve.”
The Tollgate Medical Centre team also discussed the importance of maintaining children’s immunisations – an issue that is a priority in north east London.
Sarah Portway, Clinical Services Manager/Associate Partner at Tollgate Medical Centre, said: “It is really important that children continue to have their immunisations and babies get their six week check-ups. We have done this by providing part of the consultation remotely, to reduce Covid-19 transmission risk. Children and babies were only brought into the surgery for the actual immunisations and physical check-up. Everyone involved wore appropriate personal protective equipment and we allocated a separate waiting room and specific rooms for these immunisations.”
Tollgate Medical Centre was also proud to share the work that Dr Ken Cochran, who has been a GP Partner at the practice for 34 years, has led on. Dr Cochran and other GP trainers at the practice have demonstrated the importance of ensuring a supportive, educational and positive placement experience which can lead to positive recruitment and retention of GPs.