Modality Lewisham patients left unable to book GP appointments

South Lewisham Group Practice. Pic: Molly Smith

Lewisham residents have been left struggling to get GP appointments after their surgeries merged with Modality Partnership and their booking system changed. 

In July 2018, South Lewisham Group Practice, Bellingham Green Surgery and Jenner Practice merged with Modality Partnership and are now known as Modality Lewisham

Modality implemented a new booking system in April 2023, which has left residents struggling to book appointments.

The new process encourages patients to fill in a form online and wait for a response, rather than phoning the surgery directly. 

A patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, waited for a month to get an appointment at South Lewisham Group practice.

They attended the surgery only to be left waiting in line for 20 minutes due to the check-in machine not working properly. 

They told East London Lines: “The surgery feels like the depths of hell lately… I don’t understand how they think it’s acceptable to ask elderly, clearly unstable, and/or disabled people to go and fill out the online form. There is zero compassion and I’m sure it comes from the top.”

Ever since the new system was introduced patients have been leaving a deluge of bad reviews on Google and the NHS website, expressing concerns that if something does not change, lives could be at risk.

“The place is really as dead as any urgent patients would be if they needed help,” one comment read.

Modality brings GP practices together under a single partnership. The linking of individual practices to create a larger group, or “super-practice”, was intended to make the way that the GP practices work more efficient. 

Tom Dempsey, a Modality Lewisham patient, told East London Lines: “I’ve been waiting 10 days for a telephone appointment. It’s impossible to get a face-to-face meeting.”  

The Modality Partnership has over 40 practices across the UK.

In September 2023, a Modality practice in Sussex was put into special measures after an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC’s overall rating for the practice was inadequate.

Andy Brad from the Care Quality Commission told East London Lines: “I have spoken with the inspection team local to Modality in Lewisham, who have confirmed we are aware of the concerns being raised. An inspection was carried out for this service during August and the report is currently being drafted. The findings from the Mid Sussex service were also taken into consideration when scoping out the inspection.” 

Modality did not respond to a request for comment.

In a pre-merger statement, the practices said: “Covid-19 has meant the demand for care has been, and remains, a huge challenge for us. Our staff have worked tirelessly under extreme pressures delivering our successful Covid vaccination programme and continuing to provide health care. We have faced challenges with GP partners retiring, recruiting new doctors and high staff turnover; at times the demand for services has been overwhelming and this has created a high level of burnout amongst staff.”

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