FAQ - Half Day Closures for GP Surgery Staff Training - Thanet Wide

Why does the practice close, is this really necessary?

The surgery closes for one afternoon on 10 months of the year (please see our home page for the list of dates). This enables the clinical and admin team to attend vital training and updates. This happens across all practices in Thanet (and most of Kent and Medway). Without this protected time to learn, clinical staff would not have the opportunity to attend vital training. As an example, February 2019 the training for clinical staff (GPs and senior nursing staff) will be their annual update on all changes and developments in medicine in general practice. Other staff groups will be training on other topics.

Do all practices do this?

Yes, all Thanet practices close on the same day. The clinical teams meet at a central location to receive training by specialist speakers such hospital consultants and clinical leads.

What do staff learn about?

Throughout the year the topics cover many key clinical subjects relevant to the health care needs of Thanet. These include cancer, dementia, mental health, respiratory disease, dermatology, musculoskeletal conditions end of life care, cardiology etc. Nursing staff sometimes join the GPs or have their own specialist training on subjects such as long term conditions management, wound care, infection control and vaccinations and immunisations updates. Office and reception staff sometimes attend centrally run training courses too, or they remain in the practice and have training with the practice manager and their departmental team leaders or with specialist trainers the surgery brings in.

Can the training be carried out during surgery time?

Training is organised centrally so that it includes all surgeries across Thanet at the same time. Surgeries ensure that when planning routine appointments the half day protected training is taken into consideration. The disruption to patient visits is minimal. Closing the surgery ensures that all staff can attend these sessions.

What GP cover is in place for these days, what if I need a doctor?

GP cover for any matters that cannot wait until the next day when the surgery is open is provided by the 111. Out of hours doctors from outside the area are on call via the 111 service. Any life threatening incidents should be dealt with through 999, as patients would normally. Patients are reminded that the GP surgery is not an emergency service.

Is this new?

No, the half day closures have been happening for many years, at least since 1999/2000.


2018 Flu Vaccination Programme for Birchington Medical Centre

What’s new for 2018/19?

The Department of Health and Public Health England has made changes to the influenza vaccinations this year, offering three types of vaccine depending on age and clinical risk, ensuring patients and carers receive the  most effective vaccines.  Deliveries are being centrally co-ordinated by the NHS and will be delivered in three stages with 40% being delivered in September, 20% in October and the final 40% being delivered in November.

The 3 types of flu vaccine:

  • a live quadrivalent vaccine (which protects against 4 strains of flu), given as a nasal spray. This is for children and young people aged 2 to 17 years eligible for the flu vaccine
  • a quadrivalent injected vaccine. This is for adults aged 18 and over but below the age of 65 who are at increased risk from flu because of a long-term health condition and for children 6 months and above in an eligible group who cannot receive the live vaccine
  • an adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine. This is for people aged 65 and over as it has been shown to be more effective in this age group

If your child is aged between 6 months and 2 years old and is in a high-risk group for flu, they will be offered an injected flu vaccine as the nasal spray is not licensed for children under 2.

Who should have the flu vaccine?

The NHS website has some really useful, and easy to digest information about who is eligible this for the vaccine this year.  Please follow this link for further information.

Book your appointment now

Owing to these changes made by Public Health England, and how the vaccines will be delivered, vaccinations will be offered via appointment booked with a nurse, or opportunistically when seeing a nurse for other reasons (please ask your nurse at the time of your appointment).  Appointments for flu vaccinations are available from the 26th September. Please help us by booking your appointment to have your flu vaccine at Birchington Medical Centre to ensure you get the correct one.

Why are there no Saturday morning flu clinics this year?

Birchington Medical Centre wishes to ensure patient safety at all times, therefore we have decided that booked appointments are the safest and most sensible option to administer the vaccines this year.  Sadly, this means that our usual Saturday morning walk-in clinics will NOT be held as we cannot guarantee that we would have enough vaccines available in one go.  Previous years have seen over 1,000 people vaccinated in a single walk-in flu clinic.  We are very sorry that this is the case, but our hands are tied.  Patient safety must come first, second to avoiding a situation where we don’t have enough vaccines to run a Saturday clinic and have to turn people away.

Why have your vaccination at your GP surgery?

  • offers a setting where we can check your medical records and make sure you get the most suitable vaccine
  • offers protection for those who are forgetful, since no duplicate vaccinations are knowingly given   
  • offers timed slots mean limited waiting
  •  supports your local medical centre who have already ordered your flu vaccine.  We can only return limited numbers that go unused.

What if I am housebound?

Those patients who are already on the district nurses caseload as a housebound patient, they will receive their vaccine from the district nursing team in their own home.  Any patients who are currently housebound but not on the district nurses caseload, we shall work to identify these patients and ensure they will receive a visit also from the district nurses to have their vaccines.  Patients or carers are welcome to call and book an appointment for someone who is genuinely housebound who we may not be aware of.                                                                                               

Please book your appointment to receive your vaccination at Birchington Medical Centre.  We have the vaccines ordered and wish to ensure continuity of care for our patients and carers.  Please call on 01843 848818 or drop in to the surgery to book your appointment.


Friends and Family Test

There is a way of giving feedback for the surgery, anonymously, with the Friends and Family Test. You will be asked to give your response following an appointment with the doctor.

If you are happy with the services you receive from Birchington Medical Centre or would like to comment on the changes taking place, then please visit the I Want Great Care webpage leave a review and tell everyone else. If you are unhappy, then please tell us; we can often put things right or explain what happened.  We can be contacted at


CQC Inspection

We were subject to a CQC inspection in April 2018. We have received the report from this inspection with a 'good' rating. The full report is available from the bottom of our home page.

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