Are you finding it difficult to get an appointment with your doctor?

Admitted at this time, they are overstretched with Coronavirus and its various mutations, but what about before this pandemic came about were some of you failing to get an appointment to see your GP? That inevitable scramble to telephone at that precise time of the day. If you happen not to get through after five minutes then the receptionist’s, ‘Sorry’ all appointments are full, unless it's an emergency.


What is an emergency?

An example of an emergency is a sudden illness that needs a doctor's care so when someone has an illness you need a doctor to advise and if need be an examination?


What you don’t need is a receptionist telling you, sorry all appointments are full today and your only alternative is to visit the A&E department and join the queue waiting for the overworked doctors that work in emergency medicine. Its not just the doctor it's all the other things that take up the time of the A&E department at the hospital, all because your GP cant or won’t give you an appointment they have set hours. The increased numbers at A&E all go through the same process. You book in, a nurse will ask you questions, then another nurse will probably ask the same questions. That’s three interactions with A&E staff members that could possibly be avoided if GPs would see more patients.


So, why am I writing about doctors appointments?

Well, it all came about because a mother attempted to get an emergency appointment with her local surgery for her one-year-old child, but failed to, even though her surgery has eight GPs registered at a Medical Practice in Trecynon, Aberdare.


The mother concerned about her child attended the A&E Children’s Emergency Department at Prince Charles Hospital. After speaking to one of the nurses, she was informed that she was the third child seen where an appointment was not given that day by the same Medical Practice.


Why is there a capacity problem if there are eight GPs registered at the Medical Practice? A Medical Practice that is now linked to the Aberdare Health Centre, known now as St Johns Medical Practice where both have Thursday afternoons are for medical emergencies only.


Having contacted Cwm Taf Morgannwg Community Health Council who is the independent watchdog of NHS services across Bridgend, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil, which begs the question of how much of a watchdog are they? They were reluctant to provide a written answer. After writing back I received some answers, but little to answer the main points. Left unsatisfied with the response I have written back again.


What did I discover?

Park Medical Practice and I assume St Johns Medical Practice is registered as Tarian Health care Limited. Their correspondence and company address is Park Surgery, Windsor Street, Trecynon and is described as carrying out ‘General medical practice activities'. It has just three doctors registered with this company, Dr D Baker, Dr L A Francis and Dr O M Thomas.


As I said earlier the Trecynon surgery has eight GPs registered at the Medical Practice in Trecynon Aberdare but under another name called Tarian Group Limited. Their registered address, Park Surgery, Windsor Street, Trecynon with 12 Company Directors, eight of who are doctors. The nature of the business at this address is described as ‘Business and domestic software development.

Both are young companies with Tarian Group Limited was incorporated on 14 October 2020 and Tarian Health care Limited incorporated this year on 16 November 2021 with one of the directors having links to Cardiff.


Are patients the focus for this surgery? 

This brings me back to appointments, with a doctor’s surgery in Trecynon why do those patients near by have to attend St Johns Medical Practice in Aberdare? With eight doctors between the two medical practices, why are appointments sometimes not available and why are the two medical practices only accepting only emergencies on Thursdays?


Is Park Surgery’s main function a GP Surgery or for ‘Business and domestic software’ is this the reason why patients have to attend St Johns Medical Practice? I have also been informed telephone calls for appointments were channelled through a call centre in Cardiff?


Is this the thin end of the wedge attempting to privatise the GP services in Cynon Valley and the rest of Wales? It’s a fact GPs see fewer patients now than they did 10 years ago. My own surgery Aberdare closed on Thursdays and only open half a day on Friday. Aberdare was promised a new Medical Centre, which has not materialise. We’ve seen a cosmetic job on the old building in Aberdare and built a new Medical Centre in Mountain Ash, not before time.


A response from Cwm Taf Morgannwg Community Health Council.


Minor Inures Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon.


My question was: The Minor Injuries Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon is currently closed this is not helping it also adds to the pressures at A&E departments with all doctors working for software companies little wonder the local health services is under pressure.


The answer “I can confirm that the CHC is aware of the urgent, temporary closure of the Minor Injures Unit at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon.  This was due to staffing challenges in covering a full rota to allow the unit to operate reliably.  Existing experienced staff have been transferred to the Emergency Department in Prince Charles to support their colleagues.  Additional training is being provided to nursing staff and recruitment for a consultant is ongoing, and it is hoped that the unit will re-open in early 2022”


Basically, my question was if doctors had seen more patients not refused appointments opened at least 5 full days a week it would help prevent some patients from resorting to taking time up of A&E services. 


The answer: “As I am sure you are aware, hospitals and ambulance services across the UK are under significant pressures.  The reasons for this are related to the availability of care facilities for those patients who are well enough to be discharged but need extra support.  This causes delays in freeing up in-patient beds, with a knock-on effect of delays in Emergency Departments transferring patients to wards and busy waiting areas, and ambulances waiting outside hospitals.  This is a UK issue and I understand that in Wales daily conversations take place between the ambulance service, hospitals and Welsh Government.  When necessary ambulances are diverted to other hospitals with a shorter handover time.”


My question: Cwm Taf Morgannwg Community Health Council please explain why a company for business and domestic software development also uses Trecynon medical practice? 


The answer: “I am aware of the Tarian Group and that it was introduced to support the practices involved to improve their administration activities.  All practices kept their original identities and there were no changes or impacts anticipated for patients. I am not aware that they have any physical presence in either of the Aberdare buildings that would impact the availability of appointments. My understanding is that it is an admin-based support system, including telephone lines.”


The Community Health Council were aware of the business and domestic software company operational activities at Park Surgery and I assume were Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board. Tarian Group “was introduced to support the practices involved to improve their administration activities.” Who for the Tarian Group because its not for patients who since the merger now have to go to travel to Aberdare for an appointment when they can get one.


Who is paying the bills? Is Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board subsidising or supporting or contacting this software company?


What cyber security precautions are in place? As a patient I would be concerned of data protection impact, multiple personnel from multiple organisations increases the risk of data breaches.


How many other medical practices are operating stealth companies within buildings intended and built for the care of patients? 

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Team @ AberdareOnline

Team @ AberdareOnline

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