Newsletter Spring 2022

Northgate Medical Practice and Chartham Surgery

Patient Participation Group Newsletter Spring 2022


Cancelling an Appointment

You can email us; reply to the text message we send to you or call 01227 208556 and choose option 2 to leave a cancellation message: time-saving tip – you can press 2 as soon as your call is answered, and it will transfer you to the cancellation line after a brief pause.

It has been a year and a half since the last Newsletter, which is not surprising given the circumstances. Northgate Medical Practice has been working under extreme difficulties, finding new ways to provide care while responding to the demands of the epidemic. This Newsletter aims to help patients to be aware of the changes that have been made, to raise awareness of current medical concerns and to look at what the future might hold.
There are two campaigns currently running which aim to promote greater awareness of two cancers where early diagnosis is crucial to survival rates. They are cer-vical cancer and prostate cancer. Cervical cancer screening is done in house. There is a prostate cancer awareness programme currently running nationally.

Cervical Smear Tests

Cancer Research UK figures show that there are on av-erage 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer each year, with the highest rate in women aged 30 to 34. The survival rate has increased steadily thanks to the smear test programme but even so around 850 women die from it each year. All women aged between 25 and 64 will be invited by their GP to have a cervical smear test, once every three years for those between 25 and 49, every five years for those between 50 and 64. The pro-gramme is intended to help prevent cervical cancer as it will pick up early signs of the disease. NHS figures indi-cate that 4.59 million women were invited to take the test last year, but 1.5 million did not respond.
It is very important that you take up the invitation when it is offered.

Prostate Cancer

There are 52,000 new case of prostate cancer each year, the commonest form of cancer for men particularly as they get older. The highest rate is for men aged 75 to 79. Survival rates are very good, and they are projected to rise further in the future, particularly if it is diagnosed in the early stages. But according to Cancer Research UK there are still 11,000 deaths from prostate cancer each year. There is no screening programme as such, but it pays to be aware of the symptoms and If you think you have a problem, check the NHS website or visit the Prostate Cancer UK website and take their questionnaire.

First Access Physiotherapy

In spite of all the changes to routine at the Practice, the access scheme for physiotherapy appointments is still up and running. Rather than having to go through your GP to get a referral to the Practice's physiotherapist it is possible to get immediate help with acute skeletal-muscular problems such as sports injuries and painful joints. All you have to do is to ask at the reception desk and ask for an appointment with the physiotherapist.

Are you feeling low?

Are you feeling a bit low, fed up, anxious, mildly de-pressed, or lonely? You are not alone, according to a global survey one out of every three people feel like this and with those people aged 50 +, it is one in every two people. The impact of the pandemic has made many people feel even more isolated but there are ways that the team at Northgate Medical Practice can help.
There is now a small team led by Debbie Williams, who want to help anyone who is feeling low, lonely, anxious, or mildly depressed. They will link you with someone who will work with you on “what matters to you”, and help you to access any support, activities, groups, or services that will give you the support that you want or need.
The team will listen to you and talk to you about your individual needs, they will be non-judgemental, and support you to make the contacts that you need, includ-ing supporting you in attending any activities.
To contact the team please email

Booking of Appointments

We appreciate that changes to the appointment system during the pandemic have left many patients feeling frustrated, so we are aiming to give regular updates in this newsletter regarding how the appointments system is operating and future changes.
At the moment, all appointments need to be made by phoning the surgery. We appreciate that this can be a time-consuming and costly process so the surgery is currently tendering for a new telephone system which will allow callers to press a button on their phone key-pad which will keep their place in the queue and the phone system will call them back when they reach the end of the queue. This will reduce costs for patients and the amount of time they need to spend on hold waiting to speak to someone.
No GP appointments can be booked on-line at the mo-ment, and updates regarding the on-line system for booking appointments will be published on the website and given in the next newsletter.
Initially callers for GP appointments will be triaged on the telephone, with most callers having an initial GP appointment by telephone. Any patient who received a letter during the pandemic for a screening appointment, such as for cervical cancer or prostate cancer, should contact the surgery to make an appointment with the nurse.
Finally, you do not need an appointment for a Covid vaccination or booster: you can walk into the Vaccina-tion Centre at Vauxhall Road Sea Cadets’ site, Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.00pm. 


The pandemic has brought with it unprecedented challenges for both medical and administrative staff at the Practice. We are grateful to each of them for their efforts to keep everyone safe and provide a service during the ever changing restrictions.

There are currently 6 Partners working at the Practice, and 6 Associate GP’s’. 3 new Associate GP’s have joined the Practice – Dr Andrea Nielsen, Dr Anna Jeffery and Dr Chris Ellis, and two have moved away – Dr Naomi Le May and Dr Thakshi Thivyathasan


Dr J McIvor
Dr P Walkinton
Dr D Horton-Szar
Dr R Lindsay
Dr A Charley
Dr S Balasubramaniam

Associate GP’s

Dr D Hancock
Dr S Hughes
Dr A Balmer
Dr A Nielsen
Dr A Jeffery
Dr C Ellis

Sadly, two much loved and experienced receptionists passed away during the latter part of last year – Judith Wilson in August and Sarah Wildon in October. We send our condolences to their families, friends and colleagues. They are greatly missed by all.

A number of both medical and administrative staff have left over the last two years, and new staff have been appointed. Sarah Beacham (Health Care Assistant) joined the team in April of last year and Karen Rahman (Diabetic Nurse Specialist) in February of this year. Unfortunately, 5 experienced Receptionists have left, and newly appointed receptionists are currently receiving training.

Repeat Prescriptions - NHS App

Many of you will be familiar with the NHS App, which can be downloaded to any smart phone or tablet, and which has been widely used for proof of Covid vaccination. Did you know the NHS App is also the quickest and most efficient method of ordering a repeat prescription? Simply, click on ‘Prescriptions’, then ‘Order a prescription’. Tick the items you require and type the name of your preferred Pharmacy in the comments box. Your request will be picked up by the Practice and, once approved, sent to the Pharmacy of your choice for collection, once dispensed. Why not give it a try?

Future Developments

Every patient who has had to contact NMP by telephone knows the frustration of a long wait on hold. The main reason for this is the system itself which is somewhat past its sell-by date. NMP is not alone; it is a common problem across the NHS. But there is hope on the horizon with the possible installation of a Voice Over Internet Protocol system (VoIP). This system is capable of managing a high rate of calls, as well as making some of the digital consultations easier. I am told that rather than keeping a patient hanging on it will arrange a call back when you reach the head of the queue and make the follow-up easier. The Clinical Commissioning Group is funding the change and NMP are currently evaluating the various options.  

Plans for the expansion of the of the Practice which were quite well advanced before the pandemic, are now being revived. Though a considerable amount of work has to be done in revising the plans in the light of changes to the NHS organisation and inevitable increased costs. We hope to keep you up to date with developments in due course.