One of the first things patients will notice is the change to the practice premises.
As with any 'small business', GPs tend to run their practices differently depending on their own styles, and a new doctor taking over the practice is a bit like a new shop opening. Of course, we can't shut the 'shop' for a couple of weeks to allow refitting to take place, so the changes will take place between now and the beginning of May 2006.
Firstly we cleaned the practice premises, and disposed of any old or out of date equipment and stock. This took me around five days, with help from my wife, Ellie, and our new practice manager, Gill McCormick.
The practice construction and layout is far from ideal, having been first built in 1967, and then extended around 10 years ago. The treatment room was unused (the district nurse had been using it as an oversized office and store room), and was reached via stairs which is a problem for any patients with mobility problems. The dispensary was in the reception area, and was too far from the doctor's consulting room to allow easy supervision of dispensing.
Sadly, as the premises are rented from the Health Board, we will need to wait for a new coat of paint (which is badly needed). Amazingly, when I arrived I found that the water supply did not work in the staff toilets or the old treatment room. Even more concerning, an internal door had been fitted as the external door in the old treatment room and had completely rotted away at the bottom. You could see daylight, and water was pooling on the treatment room floor! We have met with the Health Board (now NHS Highland) and they have assured us that these problems will be fixed within the week.
So, having sat down with Dr Rosemary Wright, Gill McCormick, and the rest of the staff, to work out how best to use the space, we decided to move the rooms around. The treatment room has become an office for the practice manager, a store room, and a coffee room for staff which can be used for meetings and training. The nurse's room, which will double as a treatment room, and the doctor's consulting room have been swapped round.
The dispensary will be moved to the small room between the receptionists room and the new doctor's consulting room. This will allow the doctor to supervise the dispensing, improving safety and reducing the chance of errors in dispensing. The reception office will be used to house a new filing area for patient records, which are currently spread out over two rooms. A new access hatch has been ordered specially for the dispensary, which will allow patients to order and collect their prescriptions from a separate window in the main corridor.
The waiting room has been cleaned, and old magazines and posters removed. New posters will appear on the notice board shortly, favoring local notices. Other notices will be transfered to leather-bound files which patients will be able to read in the waiting room. The old 'advertising' TV in the waiting room will be coming down, and a new play table for children with a fixed wooden train set has been ordered.
These changes are all designed not only to improve the look and feel of the practice, and make using the practice easier, but also to improve safety and make the practice more efficient.
We hope that you like the changes, and we appreciate your patience while the renovations are carried out. If you have any suggestions or comments, don't hesitate to let us know - or post a reply below.