Patients at beleaguered Lothian medical practice urged to give feedback to inform independent review

Patients at a medical practice in East Lothian which has been plagued with complaints are being urged to give feedback, as an independent review moves to the next stage.

By Jolene Campbell
Tuesday, 7th June 2022, 5:12 pm

The Riverside practice in Musselburgh has been under fire for years with reports that patients haven’t been able to book an appointment – or even get through to the practice on the phone.

Now an external review into the medical practice which launched in April is seeking views of patients after a panel heard from MSPs, the Patient Participation Group and staff at the practice.

Health chiefs and politicians have encouraged patients of the practice based at Musselburgh Primary Care Centre to help identify the problems and improve standards.

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Review of Riverside Medical Practice moves to next stage

Colin Beattie, SNP MSP for Midlothian North and Musselburgh, has submitted over 100 pages to the review panel of anonymous accounts shared by constituents.

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Mr Beattie said: "I’ve not heard any complaints from patients about care once they get in front of a doctor. But something is fundamentally wrong and it's time we got to the bottom of it.

“There seems to be confusion about how many hours doctors are doing. Riverside assured me they are at full strength. But access difficulties are evident. At the end of the day it’s my constituents not getting the level of service they are entitled to. I hope people will take up the opportunity to make their voices heard.”

One woman told the Evening News that she couldn’t get an answer after waiting over 45 minutes in a holding queue when she called about her two-year-old grandson.

She said: “My daughter had to go to work so I called to see a doctor about my grandson. He had a fever, wasn’t eating well and was crying much more than usual. I couldn’t get through to speak to a GP so I took him to A&E. He had an ear infection. It’s ridiculous, they need more staff to be able to help people.”

The practice which has 20.000 patients, featured in a list of the 20 worst GP surgeries across Edinburgh and the Lothians In March 2019, as part of the annual NHS Health and Care Experience Survey, which asked people about their experiences with local health care and access. In October 2020, nearly 600 people signed an online petition calling for easier access to the surgery.

Kenny Macaskill, MP for East Lothian, said ongoing problems are caused by lack of resources. “The main problem seems to be long waits and difficulties getting through on the phone system compounded by shortage of doctors. It’s a large practice but some are only part-time. The boundaries for registration with Riverside have expanded. But provision hasn't increased in line with the growing population.”

The independent review is fully supported by Riverside Medical Practice, NHS Lothian and the East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership.

Ten focus Groups will be carried out from June 20th – July 20th 2022 and a final report will be published in September.

Dorothy Armstrong, chair of the review panel said: “We would encourage patients of Riverside who are contacted, to participate in the Focus Groups. The information gathered from these groups will greatly inform our final report which will provide a summary of our findings and if required, make recommendations for any changes."