Newsletter - January 2019

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The Winter Newsletter: January 2019

Thank you for taking the trouble to read our latest patient Newsletter. As you will see, there is a great deal going on at the Frome Medical Practice. We are not only welcoming new members of staff but honouring the many who have served the practice for long periods of their working lives. In case you missed it in the local press, we are also outlining the recent changes to our appointments system-Patient Direct. Further, with diabetes and the risk of diabetes being given such prominence in the national media, we know that many of you will be looking forward to the talks being lined up by Dr Rob Taylor during the next few weeks.
As always-enjoy the read!


A very warm welcome indeed to our 2 new Mental Health Practitioners, Rik Maine and Esther Swanson-Slee. Rik will be joining us on the 27th January and Esther on the 11th February. There are very few GP surgeries in the UK that are able to offer direct access within the practice to a dedicated mental health professional. We know that both Rik and Esther will be able to make a very substantial contribution to the medical care that we aim to provide to all of our patients. We wish both of them a long and rewarding career at the Frome Medical Practice.

A Different Way of Treating Diabetes: Dr Rob Taylor Explains


Do you have Type 2 Diabetes or pre-diabetes? Are you fed up with being told to increase your diabetes medication but feel this adds to your long list of drugs? Does it ever really help your diabetes control? Are you told to lose weight but you never get anywhere?

Having been a GP now for 10 years, I am keen to try a different approach to help people with diabetes. I recognise that Diabetes is an increasing problem for our health as a society but also for each of us individually that has it.

It is not just a condition of ‘too much sugar’ in the blood but it is also one of the main factors in causing heart disease, vascular disease, kidney failure, blindness, dementia, and some cancers.
The good news is that in recent years, the medical profession is learning that it can be very effectively reversed. This does not mean ‘controlled by drugs’ – but actually reversed, so that you don’t have it any longer and meaning that people can come off the medications! Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix, but it is about lifestyle which involves understanding more about what we eat and how exercise can play a part.

The biggest positive in this, is that by making lifestyle changes, not only will it help the diabetes, it also tends to make people feel better, think more clearly and have more energy. Who wouldn’t want that?
If you would like to learn more about this whether you have type 2 diabetes or are a relative or carer of someone who does, I am providing a free educational event once per month in the evening from 6.30 pm at the Frome Medical Practice. Please phone us during any afternoon to book yourself a place to join the event to learn how you can make a huge difference to your health. The dates for the next two events are Monday 11th February and Monday 11th March.

Patient Survey: 2019

Every year a national GP survey is sent out to a random selection of patients. We have a current practice list size of over 29,000 patients. In 2018 the national survey was sent to 256 patients but only 107 patients completed and returned the survey.

We would like to get a better understanding of our patient’s views and are looking for as many patients as possible to answer these same survey questions. We would like to use the responses to develop and improve our services, especially since we introduced a new appointment booking system in November 2017.

If you would like to know more about some of the changes we have already made in response to your feedback, you may find our “You Said, We Did” document useful – click here.

If you would be happy to complete the survey, please either use the link below or if you prefer ask for a printed copy when you next visit the practice.

The survey will close on 30th April 2019
Your feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

To complete the survey click here

Long Service Awards

Dr Tina Merry

Dr Tina Merry

We were all extremely proud to have been able to recently award no less than 9 partners or members of staff with Long Service Awards. Awards were given for 20, 25 and 30 years’ service. The 9 who were honoured have served the Practice for a total period of 243 years!

The awards went to current GPs and partners Dr Helen Kingston (25 years) and Dr Tom Cahill (22 years). Dr Kingston is also our senior partner. Additionally, awards also went to Nurse Practitioner Rosie Sandquest (25 years), Practice Nurse Lucilla Bevan (also 25 years) as well as Health Care Assistant Vic Collinson who has served 22 years.

From our administrative team, awards went to Wendy Ridge (23 years), Donna Perry (20 years) and Sarah Mould (26 years). Sarah actually joined the Practice on what was then the YTS scheme and as a trainee worked her way up from receptionist and medical secretary to her current post as medical secretary. Sarah believes that the core ethos of the Practice, responsibility, sustainability and learning have not changed since she joined all those years ago. She is also extremely grateful for the encouragement and support the practice has given her throughout her career.

‘Everyone at the practice has always been extremely helpful and supportive of me,’ says Sarah. ‘There has always been a sense of togetherness at the Practice which is incredible when you think that FMP is now one of the largest practices in the UK. A great deal has changed since I joined in 1992, including the building where we now work, but a great deal has also remained the same. The best interests of the patients still remains at the heart of everything.’
The longest-serving person at the Practice is however Dr Tina Merry, GP and former senior partner.

‘When I visited the practice for the first time for an antenatal appointment in 1987 little did I think nearly 32 years later I would still be here!’ explains Dr Merry (pictured above). ‘I have been very fortunate to work with such an amazing group of dedicated people in such a forward thinking practice. I feel very proud of all that we have achieved in Frome over those years and plan to keep working in the practice for a few more years yet.’

The Wheeler Family: Thank You!

Wheeler Family

The whole team at the Frome Medical Practice is extremely appreciative of the donation given by the Wheeler family in memory of Dave Wheeler. The donation was used to replace a much needed dishwasher for the staff. The Wheeler family (including Dave’s wife Pauline and son Sam) are pictured here together with senior partner Dr Helen Kingston and the FMP team planting a commemorative tree in the grounds of the Centre in memory of Dave.

Sam Wheeler, Dave’s son, said:

“Pauline and the family wanted to show their appreciation for Jude Curtis and the team at Frome Medical Practice who provided such great care during Dave’s battle with cancer. We are also very grateful for the care and support they gave all our family.”

Patient Connect: One Year On

Back in early 2017, with patients sometimes having to wait 4 or 5 weeks to see their GP of choice, it was clear that the then existing appointments system needed to be radically overhauled. So, just over one year ago, the new Patient Connect appointments system was launched, with patients being offered same day appointments in a system aiming to provide the right medical care at the right time and with the right health professional.

More than one year on, what has changed and are changes to the system still being made?

One of the architects behind the new appointments system is GP and partner at the practice Dr Rob Taylor. Dr Taylor says that many patients have reported to his colleagues and himself that they have really benefitted from same day access to a GP or other health professional. However, Dr Taylor also admits that over the last 12 months it has not been perfect and the practice has been listening to patients for whom the new system was not working.
‘Let us be quite clear,’ says Dr Taylor. ‘Patient Connect is still very much a work in progress. We are working hard on a daily basis to improve the level of patient service. All of this is against a backdrop of huge pressures on every GP practice in the UK, with increasing demands accompanied by decreasing financial resources in order to meet these demands. A year ago we vowed to attract and retain the best GPs and Nurse Practitioners. As many of our patients will already have read in the local press that is exactly what we have been doing.’

Dr James Smith

Dr James Smith

In addition to the recent new health professional arrivals, the practice has just announced that Dr James Smith, who originally joined the practice as a trainee GP, has now been appointed as a fully qualified GP at the Frome Medical Practice.

‘To be able to do my GP training here and then to be able to practice here is a real privilege,’ says Dr Smith. ‘Everyone from staff to patients has been very welcoming. It has been brilliant. Every GP I know works hard to obtain an appointments system that works best for their patients. For myself as a new GP, one of the great benefits of Patient Connect is that people can look on the website front page to ensure that they pick the day to see the GP they want to talk to, thus providing a key element of continuity of care. This is good for both doctor and patient.’
Whilst delighted at the appointment of Dr Smith, Dr Taylor states that there is no way that the practice is letting up on their quest for improvements, as they now actively seek to expand their clinical staff with the appointment of two more mental health practitioners who will be starting with the practice in February.

‘For this second full year of Patient Connect, we will continue to improve and build upon the system,’ adds Dr Taylor. ‘Patients should know however that Patient Connect has already brought with it some real successes. For example, the new system has meant that the number of patients who did not turn up for an appointment to see us has now reduced by 87%, ensuring there are no missed opportunities to consult with our GPs. Over the past 12 months we have also achieved 43,000 more patient contacts with a GP or Nurse Practitioner. We are also extremely fortunate to have such a dedicated and wonderful Care Navigator team who have helped make all of this happen.’

Dr Taylor says that he is confident that obtaining an appointment to see either one of his colleagues or himself should now become easier. Particularly for those patients working, the online GP appointments system has proved particularly successful and popular, enabling patients to book a call back online from the GP at a time to suit for the patient. If anyone is unsure on how to make an online booking, then they should telephone during the afternoon or drop in to see the practice where help is readily available.
‘I am also pleased to be able to tell our patients that a larger and better telephone system has now been installed, which should improve access to us. It will also help us to understand the demands of our local community and to help us plan better for the future. Changes include a new direct appointments number of 01373 301301. However, no one at the practice here is resting on their laurels as we continue to listen to what our patients are telling us and how we can learn to improve the delivery of our medical services to them.’

For patients wanting to learn more on how Patient Connect works and how it can work best for them, they can listen to Dr Taylor, his GP partner Dr Andy Miller and others discuss the subject on the very latest Doc Miller’s Medical Hour programme, available on both Frome FM and on the practice website at

And Finally: Our Strategic Plan

The publication of the Strategic Plan of any organisation rarely causes excitement. It is also the case that in many organisations that strategic plan tends to become quickly forgotten (even by the authors) and is left un-read and un-loved in a drawer.

Hopefully, our own Strategic Plan is different! Just click here to read the Plan for yourself. The Plan looks ahead in the next five years, what we want to do and how we plan to get there. As you will see, much of the input comes from our own members of staff, with additional contributions from key ‘outsiders’ such as David Heath, the leader of Frome Town Council as well as the Chair of our Patient Participation Group, Chris Simpson.

So, if you are curious to find out what we are up to and how we are looking ahead to the future, you can now read in detail for yourself!