Improvement prescribed for some Berwickshire surgeries

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THE results of a survey questioning patients on how satisfied they are with their local GP surgeries have been hailed as positive by NHS Borders but as far as Berwickshire is concerned, the feedback makes better reading for some than others.

According to the survey, which gathered feedback from around 9,000 patients in the Borders, the practice which best meets the needs of its patients is Duns Medical Group, with results which consistently beat the national average and improved considerably on the pleasing results from 2009/2010.

The medical group earned maximum marks of 100 on a number of questions including ‘are receptionists helpful?’; ‘is the GP surgety clean?’; ‘do you feel like you have enough time with the doctor?’ ‘do you feel your doctor listens to you’ and ‘do you know when to take your medicine?’, with the latter two improving on the results from the last survey.

The questionnaire didn’t produce such good results for Eyemouth Medical Practice with the most discouraging feedback coming from the question where patients were asked to rate the overall care provided by the GP surgery. For Eyemouth this produced a result of 80, nine below the Scottish average and 13 lower than the surgery’s score from the 2009/10 survey.

Another drastic downturn in score resulted from the question if patients knew enough about the potential side effects of any medication prescribed. Eyemouth patients gave an average rating of 84, 12 less than in 2009/10 and although scores for time spent with doctors and nurses improved, the overall arrangements for seeing them dropped from 73 to 60 and 86 to 76 respectively, with the 60 rating the worst score the practice recorded in the whole of the survey.

Responses to the surgery would also suggest that arrangements to see doctors at Coldstream have worsened in the past two years. In 2009/10, patients surveyed rated the arrangements as 91 per cent satisfactory but for 2011/12 this dropped to 85. There was better reading when it came to how helpful the surgery’s receptionists were and how easy it was for patients to get through which both prompted scores of 100.

The arrangements to see doctors and nurses at Greenlaw and the amount of time allowed with them, all produced largely positive feedback from those who use the village’s surgery.

In contrast to Coldstream where a score of 76 was given when patients where asked if they could usually see their preferred doctor, Greenlaw received a score of 97 and even better scores of 99 and 100 when patients were asked if they felt that nurses listened to their concerns enough.

Patients awarded Greenlaw an ‘overall care’ score of 86, five marks lower than the result recorded for Chirnside’s Merse Medical Practice.

The survey prompted feedback from 176 patients who use the facility and similar to other surgeries in Berwickshire, the results on the whole were on par with the Scottish average. The lowest score arose from a question regarding how easy it was for patients to book an appointment three days in advance. Those surveyed gave a score of only 52 - 28 lower than the national average.

There was a difference in fortunes between how highly patients rated doctors and nurses at the practice. While answers to questions about how well patients felt doctors listened to them; whether they had enough time with them and had confidence in their ability all scored higher than the Scottish average.