Friends of Parkwood Surgery

Friends of Parkwood Surgery Newsletter - September 2023

View from the FPS Chair - Yvonne Metcalf

It’s flu jab season again and committee members are gearing up to support the surgery and, of course, us as patients, in making it the seamless experience we’ve seen in previous years. You will find us in the car park helping those who choose to drive avoid the horrors of ‘that corner’ in busy traffic, and we’ll also be in the waiting area. It’s one of the best opportunities we have as committee members to talk directly with fellow patients, so please come and talk to us. As you know, we are unable to deal with specific complaints and medical issues but the major way of representing all of us as patients of surgery is to know what issues are coming up for you, especially in these times of such pressure generally on the health service and the many changes which are being introduced at both local and national level.

We were delighted to see the formation of a new initiative, The Patient Forum, instigated by the Hertfordshire and West Essex Integrated Care Board. Its new Chair is Alan Bellinger who is well known in Patient Group circles. The Forum’s remit is to represent the voice of the patient to the Board. We have contributed to Alan’s request for a snapshot of the issues which are most challenging in Primary Care at the moment, and again we identified the major themes of communication generally, the sometimes overwhelming changes which have occurred over the last year, and how we, as representatives of the whole patient population, engage with a wider range of patients, as we are aware we often don’t come across, for instance, younger families and young people themselves.

Now the holiday period is over, we are pressing on with what we hope to achieve over the next few months. We are your voice so please contact us. Our website gives lots of information about our activities, and the minutes of our monthly meetings are posted there.

Yvonne MetcalfFPS Chair

Logo of Parkwood Surgery - a green filigree tree with the words 'Parkwood Surgery' next to it
Feedback from the surgery

As your committee, we regularly put forward your queries, concerns and feedback to the surgery management. Here are some of the top concerns you’ve raised with us, and the responses we’ve received from the surgery.

Booking ‘flu clinics

Many patients have already received a text inviting them to book a slot to receive their annual ‘flu vaccination. Several raised with us that, despite the information on the text, they could not book using PatientAccess. The surgery told us they are aware of this and the issue is that PatientAccess only allows appointments to be uploaded 6 weeks in advance; the ‘flu clinics will run during October and November and so will have fallen outside of this cut-off period. At the moment, to book your slot, please call the surgery or drop in. Clinics will run on Saturday mornings (dates tbc when booking) and, as ever, we encourage you to walk if you are able.

If you’re aged between 50 and 64, you might have been expecting an invite, as happened in the last few years in an expansion of the vaccination programme due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, unless you have an underlying condition which places you at higher risk, this scheme is not due to run in 2023-24.

Covid-19 vaccinations, for those eligible, will not be provided by the surgery; the national booking system will be in place.

Support with new systems such as PatientAccess and AccuRx

Several Saturdays in July were set aside to help those who had not yet signed up to use PatientAccess to obtain their repeat prescriptions. Unfortunately, staffing levels were not sufficient to enable these to run as often as the surgery would have liked. If you would still like some help in getting started with PatientAccess, call into the surgery during the week and ask one of the receptionists for help. You can also access support with the process using FPS’ guides. A reminder that, at present, PatientAccess cannot be used to book appointments. 

The new Accurx system for requesting same-day appointments is generally working well. Some patients have expressed concern over the mention of the system taking 48 hours. This is a limit rather than a target. When you submit a request via AccuRx, a doctor will read the details you submit and direct your request to the appropriate service; this could be a same-day appointment with a doctor, or a future appointment with a nurse or the physiotherapy team. You will be contacted by the surgery within that 48 hour timeframe, and probably on the same day. This video produced by AccuRx offers a fantastic guide to using the service.Routine appointments should still be booked with the surgery either by phone or calling into the surgery.

Some patients have raised an issue with repeat medications not appearing on PatientAccess or disappearing from their paper prescriptions. If a medication has not been requested for 6 months, it will no longer show on your records. To request it again, raise this as an admin query on AccuRx, explaining what you would like to be reissued; a doctor may require you to have an appointment depending upon the medication in question.

Contacting the surgery

Patients have raised concerns over how difficult it can be to contact the surgery by telephone. Theuse of AccuRx for both same-day medical requests and admin requests is one way the surgery is trying to free up the ‘phone lines for other things. Patients have asked why the surgery does not have a queuing system on the phone, which we have put to the management and are awaiting a response.

Staffing and organisation

Like so much of the NHS, staff recruitment has proved to be a challenge in recent months. Parkwood Surgery currently has 9 GPs, as well as several other clinical staff such as nurses, physiotherapists and a paramedic. FPS has requested that the website be updated to reflect this and has been advised this is in progress.

The closure of Boxmoor and Gadebridge surgeries has long been a concern for patients in those areas, and the eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed people coming and going from these clinics. At present, doctors are working out of these surgeries for pre-booked appointments only, due to a lack of reception staff available. Over time, it is hoped more staff will be trained to allow longer opening hours at these surgeries, as well as different clinical staff using the spaces, such as midwives.

What’s been happening with FPS this month?


FPS guides to the surgery

We’ve added to our guides to surgery processes, to cover both using PatientAccess for repeat prescriptions, and using AccuRx for same-day appointments and admin requests. You can find our guides here.


The results of the FPS survey

Thanks to all of those who took the time to complete our short survey and provide helpful feedback on the work FPS is doing and what you’d like to see us do further. We’ve identified key areas from it and will be discussing our proposed actions – keep an eye out over the coming weeks for our round-up of the findings!


October’s Health Matters Webinar: Gynaecological Health

October’s webinar, focusing upon women’s health, that was due to take place on Tuesday 10th October 2023 from 6.30pm has been cancelled


HWEDSG webinars

Also restarting after a pause, Herts and West Essex Diabetes Support Group is offering a webinar on how to ‘Eat Well and Lose Weight’ on Wednesday 20th September from 7.00pm (register here), and a further session on reducing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes on Wednesday 11th October at 7pm (register here).


Knit and Natter Group

The Knit and Natter group continues to meet on Tuesdays from 2-4pm at the Community Hall on Great Sturgess Road. If you’d like to come along to it, or know someone who would like a chat and some company, please contact Val on 01442 255449.


Check out the minutes of our meetings

The minutes from FPS’ monthly meetings, including our most recent July meeting, are available here. We hope this will improve the transparency for patients so you can see your concerns and queries are being raised.


Health Matters Webinars: accessing past sessions

We’ve had requests from patients who have missed a webinar or wanted to see parts of it again. These have been collated here and include talks on 11 different subjects, including heart health, liver health and prostate issues.


Want to stay up to date?

One easy way to keep up to date with FPS’ events is to follow us on our Facebook page. Every time we update the website, we’ll post a link there!


Unsubscribe from FPS communications

From 19th September 2022, the surgery took over communications on FPS’ behalf, in order to reach a wider number of patients. You can find out more about this on the surgery’s website, including how to unsubscribe if you would like to stop receiving communications from FPS.