LEADERS at a doctor’s surgery have challenged being described as one of “the worst” practices in the Thornbury and Yate area in a report on the latest NHS patient survey.

In July newspapers across the country, including the Gazette, published a league table of local GP surgeries based on the annual NHS patient survey, and Severn View Family Practice at Thornbury Health Centre was ranked eighth out of 10 practices in the Thornbury and Yate area, with a score of 80 per cent for ‘overall experience’.

The Gazette’s online article on the survey results was headlined ‘BEST and WORST GP surgeries in Thornbury and Yate - as rated by patients’, which angered the team at Severn View Family Practice.

Emma Williams, strategic practice manager at Severn View Family Practice (formally Dr Foubister and Partners), said: “Had the focus of the earlier article been on whether the patient felt the healthcare professional was a good listener or whether patients had confidence and trust in the healthcare professional they last saw or spoke to, then Severn View Family Practice would have fared better than other practices in the area.

“Also, in many other areas of the survey the practices are on a par.

“Simple, out of context presentation of these findings can be damaging to a practices reputation, it can also be quite hurtful to the staff that are working relentlessly to provide an excellent service, in what is commonly understood to be a challenging environment, let alone with Covid-19 thrown in to the mix.

“For additional context, according to the GP Patient Survey website, 252 surveys were sent out to our patients of which 132 responded.

“This is a 52 per cent response rate, though it is not clear if this is a statistically valid survey response rate or not.

“In addition, non-response bias is nearly always present in structured surveys meaning that more often than not, people electing to take part in the survey will often differ to those that don’t take part in the survey.”

Mrs Williams adds “reliable or not, the survey provides a benchmark and the team recognises that there is always scope for improvement.

“In recent times we have worked really hard to listen to our patients’ feedback which included long wait times for an appointment and difficulty reaching the practice by telephone.

“In early 2020, before COVID 19, we transformed our service model, increasing appointment availability significantly.

“No longer were we quoting several weeks for the next available routine appointment, rather we were offering routine appointments within a matter of days and certainly within the week.

“The project that initiated this change strove to improve access, preserve a clinically safe and sound service to our patients, whilst aimed to ensure a balanced work-life for the practice staff as well.

“The project was work in progress, with some telephony access improvements still to be made.

“Reception staff trained to become highly skilled care navigators with the aim of helping patients to receive the right care, from the right health care professional, in the right time frame.

“The downside is that this takes just a little longer to achieve and so we tend to spend a little more, necessary time on the telephone.

“The next phase of the project was set to address this when our focus was redirected toward responding to Covid-19 instead.

“We are proud of our care navigation team that were reported as helpful from 88 per cent of respondents and equally proud of our clinical team that 85 per cent of patients described as giving them enough time during their appointment, 93 per cent described as being good at listening, 90 per cent described as good at treating them with care and concern, 99 per cent described as having confidence and trust in the health care professional that they saw and importantly, 96 per cent who described that their needs were met at their appointment.

“We continue to listen and respond to our patients’ constructive feedback through means of continuous service improvement and hope that soon enough our efforts will in time, be more evident in the GP Patient Survey, even if the reliability and statistical significance is questionable.

“This is unlikely to be imminent since Covid 19 forced us to work with closed doors which will no doubt have an impact on ratings.

“For the time being we will focus on the next challenge, that is, safely re-opening our front doors to our patients who we are eager to serve in a way that is a little more familiar.”