Face-to-face consultations are very much in the news. Unfortunately, much of the debate currently about the issue is misguided. I would like to start by dispelling a few myths. Firstly, we are seeing patients, in-person, in the Surgery. Secondly, doctors and nurses almost always prefer to see patients in face-to-face situations. We recognise that in many situations, seeing a patient in-person can be essential to reach a diagnosis, save time, improve communication, better achieve an agreed understanding of the problem, and is often more satisfying for both the medical professional and the patient. We are, after all human, and enjoy social interaction. Another downside to consulting remotely is the fact that it takes longer to establish a doctor-patient relationship. We are keen to re-establish connections with our older patients and get to know our newer patients – many of whom moved into our area during the pandemic, and we have never seen in-person. But things have changed. Just as so many aspects of our lives have changed, with, for example, online shopping and home working becoming the norm, so also the way we access medical services has changed. We now have a range of consultations to choose from. What we must learn, is which type of consultation is best suited for us as individuals with the problem or condition that we have at that time. We should celebrate the fact that we have a greater variety of consultations to suit our needs. Many working people may prefer the convenience of a telephone consultation, and following up test results, or chronic disease clinics may also be more efficiently done remotely. So, it’s not just about the numbers of face-to-face consultations, but also what was the best for the patient at that time.
What is triage? Triage is the system we use to decide on medical priorities. It is the process used to assess who needs more urgent treatment over another and is the reason why receptionists ask you the reason for your call. This information is passed on to the on-call doctor who will triage your call. It is the same idea that the hospital uses in A&E, for example, to ensure someone badly injured in a car crash is seen before someone with a sprained finger. It generally results in better use of scarce resources – appointments, and that people are seen by the most appropriate medical professional in the most appropriate time frame. Please continue to work with us on this.
Doctors leaving. The pandemic has taken its toll on the Surgery. Dr Hannah Missen has left to work closer to her family, and Dr Stuart Simon will be leaving the Surgery at the end of March. They will both be greatly missed, and we are grateful for their contribution to the Practice during this pandemic. We shall have some temporary doctors (known as locums) where possible, but this will affect the number of appointments we can offer each day.
Booster covid vaccines and flu jabs. Unfortunately, these are largely out of our control. We shall be getting touch with you as soon as we are told the numbers and dates for the booster programme and will only contact you about the next flu sessions when the vaccines have been delivered. This is to avoid a repeat of the disappointment of cancellations at short notice.
With best wishes from all at the Surgery.