We commenced a telephone triage system following practice audit reports of up to 120 patients every month that were not turning up to their appointments. Last year alone (2017) we had a total of 1140 patients who booked, but 'Did not Attend'. This leaves empty clinics, and brings about complaints from other patients who genuinely need an appointment, but cannot get one.
We have introduced "a triage system" as a means of improving access to see a Doctor or Clinician. The GP will triage you over the telephone and will invite you in for an examination where necessary.
The telephone triage system is working very well for most patients, but we understand for working patients, it may be a problem. We acknowledge the need that patients aren’t always able to answer their phones whilst at work, and hence we have pre-book late evening appointments which include both telephone and face to face appointments, as well as early morning telephone consultations starting from 07:30 am. You are able to access all these online through patient access, and our reception staff.
To highlight telephone-first approaches have become increasingly common in general practice. Where this model is introduced, a patient wanting to see a GP calls the practice and is called back within two hours by a GP, who consults with the patient to decide whether the problem can be resolved over the telephone or whether a face-to-face appointment with a doctor or another health professional is required.
A major evaluation of telephone-first approaches was published in 2017 (Newbould et al 2017). It found large decreases in face-to-face consultations and increases in telephone consultations and it suggested that up to half of patient problems could be appropriately dealt with on the telephone. Using results from the national GP Patient Survey, the evaluation found that GP practices using a telephone-first approach reported a large improvement in patients’ perceptions of time waiting to be seen.
We also offer Pre-book face to face and Pre-book telephone appointments for both GP's and Advanced Nurse Clinicians. These can be booked 2 weeks in advance.
We also keep aside a portion of appointments for 'Book on the Day', as they reduce the number of forgotten appointments and hence 'DNA's'. Call the surgery between 8am - 9am for a Book on Day appointment. We acknowledge that the lines at this time can be very busy and hence we encourage you to use our online book on facility as well.
Home Visits are discretionary and not an absolute requirement of GP terms and services. Lack of transport is not in itself an indication for a home visit. Home visits are a poor use of GP time, meaning less time for other patients. Visits are extremely time consuming for healthcare professionals, as only 2-3 patients can be seen per hour in a home setting (with fewer assessment and treatment options), compared with 6 or more at the surgery. While we will not decline visits to patients who are genuinely too ill to travel by themselves it would be best to keep these to a minimum to make best use of clinical time. It is difficult to provide high quality modern health care outside the surgery. By attending surgery patient’s can access timely and appropriate investigations. At the surgery Doctor’s have equipment to make thorough assessments for patients, we have ECG machines, nebulisers, pulse oximeter, nurses can do blood tests and dressings as required. A Doctor does not carry these with him/her. Consultations outside of the surgery carry a higher risk of medical errors.
Home Visits are confined for Palliative patients and must be requested before 10 AM. In cases of emergency, please contact the surgery.
Getting to the Surgery: A patient may not be well enough to travel by bus or walk but travel by car can be arranged via friend, relatives or taxi firms. It is not the Doctor’s duty to arrange such transport.