AXMINSTER Medical Practice has been hit by a GP shortage.
Doctors at the practice have also announced changes, saying phone consultations will be limited.
The practice is three doctors down because of retirement, maternity leave and sick leave.
A statement issued by practice manager Linda Coombs said: “Unfortunately, locum GPs are now very difficult to find, especially living far from a big city as we do. Although we are trying to identify locums we will have significantly less GP availability over the main holiday season.
“Our own GPs will be working some extra sessions where possible but this can only make a small difference. This makes it doubly important that our GPs time is used as efficiently as possible and we hope that you, our patients, will bear with us during this particularly difficult time.
“If you are due a routine medication review over the summer period and are well please tell dispensary who may be able to have this done without seeing a GP.”
In addition, phone consultation will be strictly limited.
Ms Coombs added: “Some years ago we became aware that sometimes patients were making appointments to see us for relatively minor matters which could be safely dealt with over the telephone. We therefore decided to offer telephone consultations as part of our service.
“Initially this was convenient both for patients and us, and we felt that our appointments were being used more effectively, although the telephone calls were an addition to our workload.
“Unfortunately, the number and complexity of telephone calls has steadily increased as has the demand for, and complexity of appointments.
“Our priority is to ensure that when we see patients we provide a service which is both of high quality and safe, and the volume of telephone calls which we are now receiving is likely to affect this.”
As a result, the practice has limited the number of phone calls to eight per day, per GP.
Restricting telephone calls will mean more occasions when there is a wait both for an appointment, or for a telephone call with your own GP.
Ms Coombs said: “It will remain possible to speak to the duty doctor for matters which are medically urgent, but not for non-urgent matters.
“If you wish to speak to the duty doctor about a medically urgent matter the receptionist will ask you for a short explanation of what the call is about so that (s)he can prioritize his or her work.
“You will always be offered the next available appointment with your own GP first (or their job-share partner) followed by the next available appointment with one of our assistant GPs.
“We do appreciate that patients will have to wait longer than used to for non- urgent matters, although you may be aware that waiting times for GP appointments are much longer in other parts of the country than they have been in Axminster.”
The capacity to perform minor surgery and injection clinics will be reduced during this time, and the practice will be unable to offer cryotherapy for warts. Your own GP will still have the option of referring you to hospital if necessary or using the teledermatology service.
Contraceptive implants can be arranged if you need one by telephoning family planning clinics, the nearest of which is in Chard.
If you have any questions regarding these changes, or need any further advice, call practice manager Linda Coombs on 01297 33022 in the first instance.