Patient Group Newsletter

Summer 2023 - Issue 66

Welcome to our Summer Newsletter. In our last edition I mentioned our AGM which was subsequently held in May. I am pleased to report that both Liz Plaatsman and Judith Sedgwick, who stood for election, were successful and we are very pleased to have them join us. They are already providing valuable support and information to the group.

Whilst there are many changes in the wider NHS our Medical Centre continues to provide a service which includes a high number of face-to-face appointments. The MC undertakes a Friends and Family test on a regular basis and randomly selects 500 patients who have recently received services from the MC for their feedback. The results are very positive overall. However, the number of respondents is low and so, if you receive a request for feedback please do respond, there are only two questions plus any specific comments you wish to add; the process is anonymous. The PPG are confident that the MC take all feedback very seriously and will respond to areas of concern.

The next flu vaccination programme is due to start at the end of September and, if you are eligible, the MC will contact you to make an appointment.

The demand upon the services of the MC remains high and they will always do their best to help but we should not forget there are other services available. We are very fortunate in the Budleigh area to also have pharmacists and support groups on hand which you may wish to consider.

We plan to hold some health awareness sessions over the coming months, plans for this are progressing and we will advise you of the details as soon as they are confirmed.

Wishing you a happy and healthy summer (in spite of the much-needed rain)!

Sue Lake, PPG Chairperson


Do more with the NHS App!

Order Repeat Prescriptions

Book appointments

View your records


And much more...



Why is it difficult to book a GP Appointment

Nationally, GP appointment waiting times are increasing and we recognise this affects our patients at Budleigh. We are often asked why. There is no one reason, it is combination of factors.

High Patient Need

The request for GP appointments often exceeds the available supply. The growing population, an aging demographic, and increased awareness of healthcare services can contribute to high patient need. This can result in longer wait times and limited availability of appointments.

Workload and time constraints

GPs have heavy workloads, managing many patients, scrutinising diagnostic test results, reviewing information from hospital consultants, writing detailed referral letters and home visits. This can limit the time available for patient consultations and lead to fewer appointments. Locum GPs can plug the gap for appointments but ongoing admin for the patients they see returns to the practice GPs

Complex medical cases

GPs are often responsible for managing a wide range of medical conditions, including both acute and chronic illnesses. Some cases require longer consultation times or more frequent follow-ups, which can reduce the overall availability of appointments.


GPs often refer patients to outpatient departments for specialised care or further investigations. If waiting times for outpatient appointments are long, it can result in a backlog of patients waiting to be seen by specialists. As a result, GPs may have to continue managing these patients in their own practices until they can be seen by a specialist, leading to increased demand, and longer waiting times for GP appointments.

Patient frustration and need

Lengthy waiting times for outpatient appointments can lead to patient frustration and increased need for GP appointments. Patients may seek help from their GPs to expedite their referral or to address concerns arising from the waiting period. This can contribute to increased workload and longer waiting times at GP surgeries.

Follow-up care

After a patient has been seen by a specialist in an outpatient department, they may require ongoing follow-up care and monitoring. If the waiting times for follow-up appointments in the outpatient department are lengthy, patients may turn to their GPs for interim care and monitoring. This can further increase the workload and waiting times for GP appointments.


What are we doing to sustain our service to our patients

Appointment System

The appointment system allows for doctors to pre-book follow up patients, for patient to pre-book. We aim to have 40% appointments for on the day booking.

Improved Access

For non-urgent medical needs patients can contact us through SystmOnline; email and patient triage. Your message will be reviewed by the correct staff member within 5 working days.

New Telephone System

Our new telephone system features a patient callback service from caller’s number 6 and above, which offers to hold the patients' place in the queue if they wish to hang up. They will then receive a callback from the next available receptionist instead of waiting on the line, saving the patient time and money.

Promoting Other Healthcare Services

Accessing healthcare at the right time with the right service will enable us to focus on who needs to be seen by a GP. We have trained our health care administrators so that they can direct you appropriately. This will ensure that patients who need to speak to a pharmacist or other service for advice on a minor ailment are seen by the correct clinician which is not always a GP.

Urgent Support Team

Our duty doctor is now available all day as the demand for urgent on the day care has increased. We have recruited a GP assistant to assist the duty doctor to meet the needs of the same day demand. Our nursing team have a new sit and wait clinic for urgent on the day appointments as requested by the doctor – these patients will have to sit and wait but will be seen by the first available nurse.

First Contact Physiotherapist

Patients with a new onset of musculoskeletal pain can be seen quickly by a specialist physiotherapist who will be able to assess, diagnose and provide individualised rehabilitation and treatment plans. This service is for new presentations only.


What services are available to me

We are not suggesting that patients shouldn’t be seeing their GP if they need to – that’s what we are here for. However, we need your help to make sure that we are available for the patients who need us most. We are just asking patients to think ‘Do I really need to speak to a GP, or is there another option?’

If the answer is “Yes, I do need to speak with a GP”, then please complete an online consultation or call us on 01395 441 212


  • Please call 999 for any life-threatening emergencies such as:
  • signs of a heart attack - chest pain, pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across the chest
  • signs of a stroke - face dropping on one side, cannot hold both arms up, difficulty speaking
  • sudden confusion (delirium) cannot be sure of own name or age
  • suicide attempt - by taking something or self-harming · severe difficulty breathing - not being able to get words out, choking or gasping
  • choking - on liquids or solids right now · heavy bleeding - spraying, pouring or enough to make a puddle
  • severe injuries - after a serious accident or assault
  • seizure (fit) - shaking or jerking because of a fit, or unconscious (cannot be woken up)
  • sudden, rapid swelling - of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue

Exmouth Minor Injury Unit

Nurse-led walk-in facility open from 8am until 8pm every day of the year will assess and treat any minor injury including:

  • Limb injuries
  • Lacerations and traumatic wounds
  • Minor head injuries
  • Minor eye injuries (corneal abrasions & foreign bodies)
  • Foreign bodies in wounds
  • Insect stings and reactions
  • Minor non-traumatic neck pain / back pain
  • Animal bites
  • Burns

Local Pharmacy

All pharmacists train for 5 years in the use of medicines. They are also trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses including:

  • Coughs and colds
  • Sore throats
  • Tummy trouble
  • Emergency contraception
  • Aches and pains.


GPs are not qualified to deal with dental care – please contact your dentist.


Training the next generation of Doctors

Budleigh is a recognised Training Practice and all our doctors are qualified trainers who participate in the training of doctors for work in General Practice.

We regularly have medical students here for placements. These are young people training to become doctors. You will be informed if there is a student sitting in with the doctor you wish to see and asked if you are prepared to have the student in your consultation. Do not be afraid to say no – this is a personal choice.

Many of our patients have allowed our students to be present in their consultations and taken the time to talk with them to understand your medical history. Thank you, your time is helping to educate our next generation of doctors.


Flu Clinics - Open for Booking

Weekend Flu Clinics are on Saturday 23rd and 30th September 2023 vaccination times are between 08.00-12.30 and 1pm-3.45. Additional weekday flu clinics will be available from 23rd September 2023. NB: Covid Booster clinics will be later in the season.

If you eligible for an NHS flu vaccination, please telephone and arrange a time by phoning the surgery on 01395 441 212 between 10.00am-12.00pm and 2.00pm-4.00pm.

You are eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine if you are:

  • aged 65 years and over
  • aged 6 months to under 65 years in clinical risk groups pregnant women
  • aged 2 or 3 years on 31 August 2023
  • carers in receipt of carer’s allowance, or the main carer of an elderly or disabled person
  • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
  • frontline workers in a social care setting without an employer led occupational health scheme including those working for a registered residential care or nursing home, registered domiciliary care providers, voluntary managed hospice providers and those that are employed by those who receive direct payments (personal budgets) or Personal Health budgets, such as Personal Assistants

If you have previously had an adverse reaction to a flu vaccination or are allergic to eggs, please inform us. This will enable your GP to review your medical notes for suitability.


Practice Activity December 2022

  • Telephone Calls Answered: 4,833
  • Telephone Calls Dialled: 3,296
  • Appointments: 2,618
  • Online Consultations: 315
  • Home Visit: 115
  • Bloods Taken: 778
  • Prescriptons Issued: 3,691
  • Letters Sent and Received: 2,246


Mental Health - Talkworks - 18 Plus

Talkworks is a free, confidential, NHS talking therapy service, for people (aged 18+) in Devon helping you to feel better and giving you the tools and techniques to improve your mental and physical wellbeing.

Whether you’re dealing with an overwhelming life event, feeling like you’re stuck in a rut that you can’t get out of, having sleepless nights or living with a longterm health condition that leaves you struggling to cope, Talkworks are here to help.

Please be assured that accessing TALKWORKS is simple and easy. They have short waiting times for you to be seen for your first appointment, and a range of approaches and talking therapies for you to try, to see what works best for you. 


Patient Group Commitee

  • Sue Lake - Chairperson
  • David Forward - Vice Chairperson
  • Deborah Mitchell - Secretary

Peter Frean, Robert Harland, Chris Kitson, Mark McGlade, Lynette Oram, Michael Rice, Jacqui Ruhlig, Richard Waller, Judy Wright, Tania Davis

Contact Us

  • Budleigh Salterton Medical Centre, 1 The Lawn, Budleigh Salterton, EX9 6LS