Patients at Harborough GP surgery - where it was 'impossible' to get appointment - say things are improving

The South Leicestershire Medical group is a GP practice based at the Kibworth Medical Centre but has branch surgeries in other locations such as Market Harborough, Fleckney and Great Glen. 
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTERThe South Leicestershire Medical group is a GP practice based at the Kibworth Medical Centre but has branch surgeries in other locations such as Market Harborough, Fleckney and Great Glen. 
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
The South Leicestershire Medical group is a GP practice based at the Kibworth Medical Centre but has branch surgeries in other locations such as Market Harborough, Fleckney and Great Glen. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
The surgery was recently rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission

Frustrated patients on the books of a GP surgery in the Harborough district have said it was once “impossible” to get an appointment there – but believe things are improving.

The South Leicestershire Medical group – which provides care for over 24,000 people – was recently rated as ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission.

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The group is a GP practice based at the Kibworth Medical Centre but has branch surgeries in other locations such as Market Harborough, Fleckney and Great Glen. It was given the same rating at an inspection last April but the CQC believe not enough has been done to change this and its inspectors said its safety, effectiveness and responsiveness was not up to scratch.

Daisy Allen, 32 from Market Harborough said she has had a “really mixed experience” with the practice. She said: “Getting an appointment has always been hard but that could be the same everywhere.

“It used to be impossible because you would sit on the phone for ages at 8am waiting to get through and it was pot luck if you did. But I’ve found that recently it has got better and you can get through to someone at the reception.

“I think some people go and queue up too for appointments. I’ve always found the care really good and the staff all seem genuine, the issue was just getting the appointment.”

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These words were echoed by 59-year-old Jenny Kellas who said staff at the practice were “always extremely helpful”. She added: “The phone issue was always the biggest thing for people and I know some people have left the practice because of it

“They have moved to other places like Oadby and said they can always get appointments and do not have to queue. But I think things have got better here, a lot of it is online so maybe that has helped.

“There are just so many people now so no wonder they are under pressure. Villages like Kibworth have become like towns.”

The practice serves more than 24,000 people in South Leicestershire, according to the CQC and is made up of a team of seven GP partners and eight salaried GPs who provide cover across the various sites. Practice leaders have said they are trying to increase recruitment across the group.

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Phil King, a district councillor who represents Kibworth is registered to the practice. He said the CQC report was a “concern” and it “may take some time” for things to be sorted.

He added: “I think we need to see these improvements happening because whilst the care isn’t in question, there are other things where people are asking what’s going on? If the CQC go in again and it hasn’t changed then maybe that raises much more serious questions.

“We can give them the benefit of the doubt now and we know these things take time to sort out but it is frustrating more than a year down the line it is still ‘requires improvement’.”

One annoyed 78-year-old resident from Kibworth, who wished to remain anonymous, said the modernisation of the practice was making life harder for some. He said: “I find it really difficult to use the new system because it is all online and I have to get my daughter to get my prescriptions for me.

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“The nurses and doctors have always been really nice and friendly in Kibworth, so are the reception staff. But I want to be able to call up and get my prescription like I used to be able to. Not all change is good, despite what everyone believes.”

In response to the inspection outcome, a spokesperson for the South Leicestershire Medical Group previously said it was “welcomed” and allowed it to show it had addressed issues highlighted at last years inspection.

They added: “At this most recent inspection, the new CQC team have identified some additional areas that now need our focus, most of which relate to operational matters, meaning simple changes to our processes have already resolved these concerns.

“We are also working collaboratively with the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Integrated Care Board, who are supporting us with our improvement plan to address the issues raised by the CQC and to ensure we are offering the best possible services and care to our patients.”