Two GPs slept at their practice to avoid being late for their appointments the day after, the practice manager has told Pulse, our sister publication .
After news of a public transport strike, Dr Kathryn Illsley and Dr Tim Sowton, who commute daily to The Seascale Health Centre in Cumbria and were on duty the morning after, decided to sleep at work.
‘When there is a strike, a normal 40-minute commute could take up to three hours,’ said practice manager Lisa Drake.
For this reason, the two GPs deliberately decided to stay in the surgery to avoid running late the morning after, said Ms Drake.
‘It was the first time they stayed over for the night. Of course, it wasn’t a comfortable night but we’ve all decided now that we’re going to bring in some blow mattresses,’ she said.
Finding a solution
The practice manager said that they tried to solve this problem by introducing a requirement for GPs applying to work at the practice to live close to its premises.
However, for the past three years the practice had to cope with short staffing levels and now have only one out of seven GPs living in the vicinity of the practice.
Another way to tackle the problem would be to reduce the number of patients going to the practice and do video-consulting instead, Ms Drake suggested.
However, Ms Drake said that the rural infrastructure they have available in Cumbria is way behind what a practice located in an urban area would have available.
‘Not all of our patients have the technical capabilities to work with video-consulting. And we have no signal at all in our practice,’ she said.
Improvements to practice premises and IT were promised by the Treasury in 2014, but Pulse learned earlier this year that only 5% – £48m – of the £1bn ‘Estates and Technology Transformation Fund’ (ETTF) has been spent on premises.