Residents expressed an overwhelming support for the proposed move of Dartmouth’s GP surgery to the new state-of-the-art Health and Wellbeing centre at the top of town.
The support was revealed in a patient survey carried out by the Dartmouth Medical Practice and Dart Patients Group, which received more than 830 responses.
A total of 29 questions were posed, with a special focus on patient views on the plans to move the town centre survey to the new £4.8 million home for GP and NHS services in the town in May.
The questionnaire was based in part on the questionnaire used in the Patients’ Opinion Survey carried out in 2019. A total of 833 responses were received, compared to the 329 patients who responded in 2019, and covers about 10 % of the patients registered with the practice.
In its report, the patients group highlighted ten key finds of the survey
The report, by chairman Pierre Landell-Mills, said: “The high response rate of this survey provides a significant and detailed insight into the current concerns and preoccupations of Dartmouth Medical Practice patients.
“It gives valuable feedback to the practice and should help guide the provision of future care.”
The report then listed notable concerns including reducing long delays in securing a non-urgent doctor’s appointment.
Nearly 700 of the 830 people who responded to the patient survey carried out by the Dartmouth Medical Practice and Dart Patients Group supported plans to move the surgery to the new purpose-built site at the top of town.
But most are “poorly informed” about the new services to be provided there, says the Dart Patients’ Group report on the survey.
The group called for the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust to remedy this as a “matter of some urgency.”
The new multi million pound centre will be located on part of the overflow park-and-ride car park, just outside Dartmouth on the A3122, where it joins with the A379 by Lidl supermarket.
Some 233 respondents raised concerns about parking at the new centre, which is nearing completion, and hoped there would adequate free parking and reliable public transport.
Many said they would also like to see a Minor Injuries Unit there, along with a pharmacy and x-ray, minor operations, physiotherapy, mental health and health counselling services.
The Dart Patients’ Group report said: “The overwhelming concern was the adequacy of the provision for parking, particularly free parking, or having adequate bus services included connecting patients in the surrounding villages.
“At the very least, respondents felt that transport should be provided for the elderly and disabled.
“Some wanted a regular clinic downtown. Others mentioned the need for a pharmacy on site, preferably not Lloyds.
“A few in full time employment wanted evening or Saturday appointments.
“There was some concern for elderly people who might not be computer literate and thus unable to use online services.
“Again, mention was also made of the need for a minor injuries unit and for physio treatment and other specialist services such as dermatology, podiatry, social prescribing and mental health support.
“Lastly, mention was made of the need for the centre’s services to be joined up with social care and nursing beds (intermediate care).
“Many of the matters raised indicate that the respondents are, for the most part, poorly informed about the services to be provided at the new centre, suggesting that, as a matter of some urgency, the trust needs to distribute widely an information leaflet explaining in some detail what is being planned.”
One of the key issues respondents to the patient survey reported was difficulty in getting quick access to Dartmouth’s doctors for non-urgent treatment.
There were also concerns about getting appointments with a doctor of choice the provision of continuity of care. Patients said they were concerned about the lack of systematic follow up of test results, and regular health checks and more preventative care.
There were calls to make the on-line systems more user friendly, to clarify and publicise what elements of minor injuries will be dealt with by the surgery, and to arrange for repeat prescriptions to cover three months rather than one.
The patients’ group report said: “Other concerns included the lack of systematic follow-up with patients on the results of tests, difficulties with e-consult and, in a few cases, a “lack of empathy” from staff, both doctors and receptionists, and insufficient capacity to address “women’s issues” and to provide mental health support.”
There was a “marked improvement” in reported patients overall experience, with 82 % of respondents hailing the practice “very or fairly good” compared to 55% in the 2019 survey, and nearly half describing their experience as “very good,” said the report.