This merger represents an opportunity to further improve our service and make local General Practice, fit for the next decade and beyond. Contrary to negative press in the national media, about reduced capacity in general practice, last year we delivered 89, 000 patient contacts (including face to face GP and nursing appointments, home visits, video, online and telephone consultations, and additional services such as physiotherapy assessment), for our 10,500 patients, representing an uplift of 25% on pre pandemic levels and 300% more appointments per person per year, than we were delivering a decade ago.
The introduction of a phone triage model has enabled rapid allocation of patients to the most appropriate clinician on the basis of “clinical need” rather than “want and expectation”, and has allowed us to help prevent wasted appointments for non-medical reasons. Demand has always exceeded supply, and regular attenders will remember the old system of having to secure an appointment between 8.30 and 8.35 or wait for hours for open surgery. Many patients now appreciate the increased range of opportunities and convenience we can offer and we are able to assess every triaged request, rather than just asking patients to call back another day. General Practice is not an emergency service, we are now a multidisciplinary community medical service.
We thought it would be useful if we outlined a little bit of how the system is supposed to work, so that all patients are clear on the level of service we offer, so that there is no misunderstanding about how to access the surgery and the clinical team. All our plans are based on data that we have analysed over the course of the last year or so.
All patients telephone the surgery during opening hours. From the outset, please note that you do not have to wait an inordinate length of time to get through. If the queue has 50 patients, you are welcome to leave your phone number, and you will receive a call back. You will not lose your place in the queue. All telephone calls are answered in the order in which they join the system. Should you prefer, there are of course other ways to contact us including emails, letters,; note that you can order your medication via the NHS app, or by speaking directly to your community pharmacist who will be able to place the orders for you.
Please do consider the various options offered. For example, if you need advice about the medication that has been prescribed, or about your results, then please select the appropriate option, noting the hours during which the services are available.
When you phone, please be aware that the majority of the appointments we offer with a GP or clinical nurse specialist are booked “on the day”. This is because about 80% of patients request attention on the day that they telephone us. the receptionist will ask for clinical information, in order to accurately triaged you to the most suitable professional. While we take a patient request into account, this is not always possible. For example, a urine infection can easily be dealt with by a nurse practitioner. Even episodes of chest pain or palpitations can be dealt with by nurse practitioners, who are perfectly capable of conducting an appropriate history taking exercise, examine properly, and instigate investigation. Please do be aware that all allied health professionals work within the supervision of a GP, and have access to a GP at any point if they feel this is necessary. Therefore, as a patient, you should feel reassured that whichever clinician you are invited to see, should be able to deal with the medical problems that you present with, even at if this is not the professional you would have instinctively chosen to see in the first instance. It is worth pointing out that the feedback we have had suggests that sometimes it is actually more appropriate to see a nurse practitioner than a GP, who tend to have longer appointments in the main, and therefore can take more time to explain exactly what is going on. Often, we have found that once patients have seen our nurse practitioners, they are confident about seeing them again, and indeed prefer to do so. However, please be aware that the ultimate decision about which professional you will be offered, will be made on the basis of the information offered in the triage recording that is done by reception.
While there are a few appointments that are booked in advance, this is relatively uncommon. However, sometimes we all accept it is necessary to do this, and we can always try and find a mutually convenient appointment for any patient.
By contrast, appointments for routine reviews or procedures do tend to be booked in advance, at a mutually convenient time. Indeed, the majority of our appointments with our practice nurse and healthcare assistants are booked in advance, so that these reviews can be planned and coordinated properly. A good example would be the conduct of the diabetes review. Often we would need blood tests, foot check and blood pressure checks ahead of a formal review with the diabetes nurse. This is to ensure that all the available information is available for the highly qualified professional to conduct an effective review. We acknowledge that you may have to come to the surgery more than once, but, ultimately, we can try and make the experience as efficient as possible in this way.
Finally, please be aware that there is an option on our system for you to cancel your appointment. Please do this as early as possible, to give us the chance to reallocate the appointment to somebody else.