Responding to Patient Feedback about Access to Services

We would like to start by saying thank you to everyone who has contacted NHS East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Healthwatch East Sussex or HavensHealth (formally Meridian or Rowe Avenue surgeries) over the past few months about their experience at the surgery. We sincerely apologise for our lack of communication concerning the merger.  We are aware this is a big change for all our patients and you have concerns about being able to access us to get the help and care you need, and you have questions about why this has happened.

Over the past few years the surgeries have lost many GPs through retirement or moving away and, in common with many areas in the country, it was difficult to recruit new GPs. In particular it has been difficult to find GPs willing to take on the responsibility of being a GP partner and the surgeries realised that if they did not change there was a risk that one or both of our surgeries would have to close.  With support from the CCG a decision was made to merge both Meridian and Rowe Avenue surgeries together to continue to offer the best clinical care for all patients.

Originally the plan was to do this slowly over a couple of years to minimise the disruption for patients but unfortunately the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic meant we had to rapidly change those plans.  Under Covid-19 the surgeries were advised to separate areas of our premises in order to keep Covid-19 patients separate from other patients to help stop the risk of the virus spreading further.  In addition to this there was a further shortage of staff as several were shielding at home.

In light of all this we decided that the safest way forward was to use the Rowe Avenue building for Covid-19 assessments and move all other patient care to the Anchor Health Centre site.  Bringing the surgeries together in such a short period of time caused a number of issues.  In particular the IT system had numerous problems and the phone system was unable to cope with the move and left patients facing great difficulty in getting through on the phone.  We apologise to everyone that has experienced problems contacting the surgery in recent months. We recognise that the experience for patients is not what you would expect We are committed to dealing with all the issues and are working together to solve the problems caused and ensure patients are able to experience good clinical care again.

As part of this process the surgery are putting together the following action plan:



  • A new digital phone system with many more phone lines
  • A queuing system so patients know where they are in the queue
  • A new dedicated phone line for script queries


  • More reception staff to answer calls
  • More staff to deal with prescription queries
  • We have managed to recruit several more GPs despite the national shortage
  • Another Paramedic to help with home visits
  • A new Sexual Health Nurse
  • A new Clinical Pharmacist to help with prescribing work
  • A Physiotherapist to help free up GP appointments
  • A Patient Liaison Lead dealing with feedback and working with the Patient Group


  • Most every day services will happen at the Anchor Healthcare site as this is the larger premises
  • The Rowe Avenue Covid-19 area has now been moved to a self-contained unit at the rear of the building and the Patient access door is at the rear, through the carpark
  • The front part of Rowe Avenue is now used by our Acute team of Nurse Practitioners, Paramedics, Health Care Assistants and sometimes a support doctor

Communication & Contacts

As the effects of Covid-19 continue, it is as important as ever to seek help if you are concerned about a possible sign or symptom. Please continue to contact the practice in the normal way, if you have any concerns. If you have any difficulty contacting the practice and need urgent healthcare advice you can call the free NHS 111 service or got to the website above.

While we have started some of this plan, we know that some of the improvements may take a little more time to take effect.  The surgery will meet together with the CCG and Healthwatch later this month and regularly over the next few months to continue to improve the services for patients, and ensure the proposed changes bring about the desired results.

We thank everyone for their patience and understanding while this happens.

With our very best wishes

The Partners of HavensHealth & East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group


Statement from NHS East Sussex CCG

We work closely with local GP practices to ensure our local populations have access to general practice services. A key part of our work is listening to, and acting upon, patient feedback about their experiences and we are very sorry to hear that some patients have not had a positive experience from accessing services at HavensHealth.

We have been working closely with the practice to help them address the concerns that have been raised and to ensure improvements are made that will make a positive difference to patients.

The improvements have so far included the introduction of a new phone system, new phone lines to increase the number of people who can call into the practice at any one time, and recruitment for new receptionists. Alongside these immediate tangible improvements, a detailed action plan is in place with clear timescales to put into place larger scale changes to improve the way the practice supports its patients, and we are working with the practice to ensure that this is delivered.

We would like to thank Healthwatch East Sussex for helping to raise patient feedback to inform these changes and we are working with them and the practice to establish a task and finish group to help oversee the improvements that need to be made.

Published: Dec 11, 2020