Latest newsletter

Posted by: lisadrake - Posted on:

Dear Patients,

Our problems

Whilst we don’t want our problems to be your problems, we must share with you the issues we are facing

Demand on our services

The demand on our services has been growing for many years and unfortunately, it’s now reached a critical point where we can no longer do what we used to do, as effectively as we want to.  Since the pandemic our patient demand has changed, and many people are now consulting with us in practice more frequently, with almost 30% of patients with multiple appointments. The covid pandemic has resulted in a backlog of patients who need our help and who are also awaiting further care in other settings e.g., in hospital.

Difficulty in recruiting new doctors and staff

As you will have seen in the media, this is a national problem and a very real issue for us in a rural area, with second home ownership making many properties unaffordable, and the hospitality industry as an employment competitor.  

New roles to help

Over the last few years, we have new roles in the team that you may not be aware of.  These are Pharmacists to support medication and some long-term condition reviews, Musculoskeletal Specialists to deal with joints and muscle problems, joint injections and refer to Orthopaedics, Care coordinators to help patients navigate an increasingly complex health care system.  Some areas have Social Prescribers or link workers who can support people with services outside of General Practice. You may be contacted by members of our wider team, so please be willing to see them. Our clinical team meet regularly to discuss your care and work together to help you.

Financial constraints

We have had less money year on year to provide all the services at Ambleside and Hawkshead Surgeries.  As a rural practice, our income was protected for several years to recognise lack of alternative provision and access to other services. We have always tried to deliver a full range of Primary care services, but this funding is being withdrawn and we are now feeling the impact of this reduction.

As Doctors, we want to continue offering the safe, effective services that our patients expect and deserve. Indeed, we want to improve them, but we need to do this in a sustainable way. We know that as patients, you want timely access to a doctor of your choice and continuity to deal with your problems, with those that you know and trust. 

As always, our aim is to help you to stay well and, and we are creating a guide where, we hope to help you work with us to get the best out of our services and know where to go for other useful information. Whilst we know that we don’t always get it right, we do still want to know about this. We understand that there are times when you are not well or are worried and may not be yourself.  Our staff try their best to help and usually deal with any concerns informally, but if you wish to raise a concern more formally, please ask to speak with our Practice Team. If you want to make any suggestions or join a Patient Group, just let us know. We very much enjoy the support from the patients we have at Ambleside and Hawkshead and wish to continue providing you with the best care we can. 


We are grateful to the large majority who have continued to treat our staff with courtesy and respect as they try to help you.  Thank you to all of you who send in tokens and messages of appreciation – it helps us immensely and gives us a boost.  But we also ask that you understand that the challenges that we all face, are not the fault of our frontline teams.  No matter how frustrated you may feel about the situation, please do not transfer this frustration onto our teams.  They too are patients, but also have a reasonable expectation to come to work in a safe environment, where they do not get challenged, especially when they are trying to help in a difficult situation.

We have never been closed

Finally, throughout the pandemic we have continued to work and see all patients who needed face to face appointments where clinically appropriate. We have embraced the use of telephone consultations and use of secure messaging with attachments, which is often more convenient for you as patients and has helped us to meet more of the demand.  The latest GP survey information shows where we are doing ok and where we can make improvements, but we can only do this together with you.

How you can help

Whilst we are preparing our guide about some of the changes we will need to make, here are 10 quick ways to help:

  1. Please get the best out of online services – it’s an enhancement not a replacement offer. The NHS App has lots of features that you may not be aware of. You don’t need a smartphone and can use your computer or tablet to access. 
    • You can set up your account safely using NHS Login without needing to present ID at the practice
    • You can get your covid pass both in the NHS App and here.
    • If referred to hospital you can check waiting times and change your appointment via the NHS App yourselves, without needing to contact us.
  2. Please check our website for information first before telephoning us.  There is lots of advice about Self Care help and advice and you can use the NHS 111 online system to check your symptoms first, to see when you need to seek help.  This is preferable to ringing 111 as the advice is easy to read and you may be less likely to be escalated to an emergency service unnecessarily.
  3. Stock your medicine cabinet with over-the-counter medicines. 
  4. Order your medication online each month via the NHS App – please avoid ordering by email as we must ‘cut and paste’ your request into your clinical record manually – which is both unsafe and takes us extra unnecessary steps
  5. It’s no longer always ‘Dr first’, we have other members of the team, better suited to deal with some of your issues, so don’t be offended if our reception team make appointments with clinicians and staff who are not GPs, or suggest you try one of the self-referral services.
  6. We offer three ways of access to our services:
    • Telephone consultations – these can be booked online
    • Online consultations – these can be admin queries such as Fit Note requests or clinical queries – your consultation will be routed to the best member of the team to deal with and you will be contacted within 2 days, either by sms message, telephone or requested to come in
    • Surgery consultations at either Ambleside or Hawkshead
  7. Use of messages, to send your documents or request photographs – please make sure your mobile number and email address are up to date with us as its essential for contact
  8. Viewing of full records and test results online – you will see your results as soon as we have received them, and what we would like you to do next, if we have planned follow on care with you.  You can also recap on our consultations, and this is easier to share with other Health care professionals
  9. Please take care of yourselves – we have a BP, height, and weight machine in the foyer at Ambleside – hop on next time you are passing and keep your information up to date. Please also use this whilst you are waiting for an appointment – this will save vital minutes in the consultation for us to spend with you.
  10. If you are not aware how to do much of the above, and you need some help from our team, please just get in touch

Thank you for taking the time to read this and once again, for the wonderful support given to our team during the pandemic,

yours sincerely,

Drs Ward, Davies, Cook, Stanley, Hunter and the Team at Central Lakes Medical Group

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