Escalation of concerns in relation to the Meridian Surgery, Peacehaven.

In July, several reviews were posted on the Healthwatch East Sussex Feedback Centre which highlighted patient concerns about the Meridian Surgery in Peacehaven. Similar messages were also received through social media. These focused on challenges in making contact with, and receiving a response from the Surgery, with extremely long wait times being recorded.

To gauge the extent of these issues, Healthwatch East Sussex sought feedback from users of the Surgery by developing and distributing a short video and supporting narrative which were posted on both social media and our website, as well as distributed via our newsletter.

In response, Healthwatch East Sussex has received over 100 comments, with over 60 reviews of the Surgery made on our Feedback Centre and submissions also being made social media and via email. Positive messages were received, however, the difficulty in making contact and the knock-on impacts of this were evident in the vast majority of comments received.

In August, Healthwatch East Sussex wrote to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) responsible for commissioning these services setting out a summary of the main issues identified in the information received. This focused on:

  • Long wait times to make contact via the phone system
  • Poor functionality of the online appointment booking system
  • Delays in making contact with, or hearing from practice staff
  • Challenges in escalating issues around symptoms or access to medication

The CCG has responded and acknowledged that the scale of the responses over a short period of time and the common issues identified were a matter of concern, and that these have been discussed with the Business Manager and the senior GP partners at the surgery.

The response received identified that the practices have agreed with the CCG a comprehensive plan to take steps which respond to the issues, which includes:

  • recruitment of additional reception staff – 1 new part time receptionist recently started and 3 new receptionists are currently being recruited
  • the recruitment of a clinical pharmacist, physiotherapist and a social prescriber under the national ARRS scheme and this will increase the capacity of the Peacehaven practices to meet patient needs, which should free up GP capacity for patient appointments
  • new dedicated phone lines installed for outbound calls so that staff phoning out do not use the same lines that patients use to phone in
  • a new dedicated phone line for patients to contact the medicines management team
  • reception managers now monitoring calls and supporting staff to deal effectively and efficiently with calls
  • recent recruitment of 5 additional GPs that will increase appointment capacity

The CCG will monitor the situation closely over the coming few months and will offer the practices whatever support they can to improve their service for local people. This will include making regular contact with Healthwatch East Sussex to explore any further feedback which is received in relation to these services.

Healthwatch East Sussex will continue to monitor this situation and we encourage patients to continue to provide us with updates on these services.

This account highlights the importance of sharing your views and experience of health and care services with Healthwatch East Sussex. Please continue to tell us how services are working for you, whether it’s good or bad?

Positive feedback helps services keep up good work, and where things go wrong, critical feedback can help providers and commissioners to understand what changes are needed going forwards.

Remember to leave your feedback at or contact us:

Tel: 0333 101 4007 (lines open Mon-Fri 10am-2pm)





14 Responses to “Escalation of concerns in relation to the Meridian Surgery, Peacehaven.”

  1. Jack Willoughby

    When will all the improvements happen as yet I still haven’t managed contact
    with the surgery, I want a flu jab. Phoned chemist will have some next week
    Try later!.

    • Charlie Rustem

      Hi Jack,

      We will ensure that we keep everybody updated with the improvements which are being put in the place.

      Let us know how you get on with the flu jab.

  2. brenda jones

    we will see if any improvements happen because is is so ridiculous they way is is at the present time

  3. Dorothy Farrant

    was supposed to be getting a call about a urine and blood test, for a diabetic check, was told I would get these calls two weeks ago, not heard anything as yet

  4. KSexton

    My mother was told by nurse she needed to see the doctor while at the surgery. She was told to ring for appt. even though she was there. After 2 hours continuous calling , gave up.

  5. C Towers

    Several weeks ago i had a very bad earache, i tryed calling the meridian centre, virtually all day or the next so gave up, what’s going to happen when the new housing estates are allocated to people and will need a doctors, if the meridian cannot cope now how will they cope with more patients

  6. Lynda Gardner

    Since the surgeries have merged ,as a Rowe Avenue patient I feel forgotten with regard to diabetes and asthma reviews and even when I have felt very unwell the effort of trying to get through via a phone call has just been too much so I soldier on hoping I will feel well again soon. I’m not a person who makes a fuss about nothing ,never have been, although I know in health terms this has been to my own detriment at times so when I have to be quizzed on the phone and then have to wait to be invited in for an appointment ,I find it quite insulting. I am almost 73 years old and I think I know when I need to see the doctor who I assume to have additional skills over and above those required to be a receptionist, who has by definition , a different skill set altogether. To be fair I must compliment the efficiency of staff who ran the recent flu jab appointments and I do acknowledge the difficulties incurred by all at the practice in recent months with the merging of practices and Covid 19 and I am hopeful that the practice will make the necessary improvements in response to constructive criticism

  7. Ros Heaney

    My husband and I are very pleased to see that things will be improving soon as it is an impossible situation at present! There are hundreds more houses being built which will add several thousand more potential patients shortly…… things really do need to Improve!
    Dr Starling and his team have always been so very good and it is a shame that this situation should arise so near to his retirement. He is held in great affection by so many patients .
    Thank you for listening, and we await all the Improvements with good will on all sides.

  8. Julie Zambito

    I received a letter from the meridian surgery asking me to book a blood test. After continual phoning for 25 mins I was then held in a call Queue for 35 mins, when I finally got though I was told that there was no more nurse appointments left for that day. And to try again tomorrow, I haven’t done so as I haven’t had the time to wait forever. This is not the first experience I have had trying to get an appointment in the last 6months. I have been with this surgery for 31yrs and in the past I have always praised it for its prompt and efficient ness . What will it be like now it has amalgamated with row avenue surgery.

  9. Julie

    I’ve spent the entire day trying to actually talk to an actual person so that I could book and urgent appointment it took over 200 calls, I was on hold for half an hour twice and then just cut off, finally got through at half 1 to be told that I have to ring back at 2 as the appointment lone was closed. Tried again from 2 until half 3 and after another half an hour on hold was told that there was no more appointments or phone consultations left!! I gave up at this point and have registered at Quayside Surgery in Newhaven…… they were amazing and so helpful.


Reply to Charlie Rustem

(will not be published)