A Failsworth GP surgery defrauded by a former manager has pledged to 'reset its relationship' with patients by making it easier for people to get through to the practice on the phone.
Local councillors called a meeting with staff from Failsworth Group Practice, the largest medical practice in the area, to discuss concerns about the GP surgery.
It came after a number of residents raised issues regarding their difficulties in getting through to the practice on the telephone.
Failsworth Group Practice is one of three medical practices operating from Failsworth Health Centre on Ashton Road West, and serves more than 12,500 patients.
The meeting took place between senior managing partner Dr Fareeha Saeed, practice business manager Dee Radcliffe, practice manager Mel Cheadle and Failsworth councillors Liz Jacques, Norman Briggs and Sean Fielding.
Staff said the surgery had faced ‘challenges’ over recent years, including being asked to pilot a new telephone system which turned out to be ‘unsuitable’ and being the victim of fraud at the hands of a former manager of the surgery.
Karen Evans was jailed for three years in 2019 for stealing hundreds of thousands of pounds of NHS money by falsifying patient records to play gambling apps on her phone while employed as the GP surgery manager.
Minshull Street Crown Court was told that as a result of Evans’ thefts, four of the five doctors at the surgery subsequently had to leave or take early retirement.
At the virtual meeting between councillors and practice staff in February, the surgery confirmed that the appointment of Dee Radcliffe as practice business manager had provided a ‘fresh pair of eyes’ to resolve many of the issues.
They said that some improvements to the telephone system had already taken place, and they intend to recruit up to five new support staff to answer the ‘huge numbers of calls’ the practice receives on a daily basis.
And further planned changes at the surgery included the introduction of a voicemail system so that patients seeking appointments can leave a message rather than waiting on the phone.
Dr Saeed said: “I’m proud to lead Failsworth’s largest medical practice and I want to reset our relationship with local people and be an active part of the Failsworth community.
“We’ve had some challenges in the past, including being let down by a previous surgery manager, but we have now moved on and are absolutely focussed on providing the excellent GP services that our patients deserve.
“I am confident that the changes we have already made and those we have proposed will enable us to deliver a real first-class service at the surgery.”
Practice bosses also confirmed that an email address – email@example.com – was also now available for appointment booking.
The practice says it is also working closely with the administrator of a local social media group where members discuss health services to get information about the surgery out into the community.
Councillor Jacques said she was grateful for the practice staff giving up their time to discuss the concerns of residents.
“I am really encouraged by the improvements already undertaken at the surgery and those that are soon to be brought in,” she added.
“As a Failsworth Group Practice patient myself I am confident that those in charge at the practice have a handle on what needs to be done to solve the problems and are getting on and doing it.”
Failsworth Health Centre on Ashton Road West. Photo: Google Maps.