We would like to use this first newsletter of the year to explain some changes to our appointment system. The fundamentals of the system, whereby the on-call GP assesses the reason for contacting the surgery, and advises the best way forward, (otherwise known as ‘triage’) will remain the same. However, we would encourage patients to state their preferred consultation mode, usually either face-to-face or telephone, and/or their preferred clinician. We shall try as much as possible, and where clinically appropriate, to fulfil your requests. Clearly, there may be reasons why the outcome may differ from your initial request, and a simple example may be where the on-call GP assesses your problem as being of an urgent nature and advises a 999 call, or that you need to be seen face-to-face for a physical examination, to make a diagnosis and advise you appropriately.
We are also removing the restriction on making appointments at the reception desk. Appointments can now be made by speaking to a receptionist at the front desk but be mindful that you may be compromising your confidentiality if you must speak loudly at reception, where other people in the waiting room may overhear you. We are in the process of replacing the screens at reception with new ones that have better acoustic properties. You will have to wait to speak to a receptionist if she is busy on a call.
Follow-up appointments can also be booked in advance at the request of the consulting clinician but note that reception can only act on this if it is documented in the clinical notes, or you have been given a booking slip by the clinician. This is obviously subject to the availability of pre-bookable appointments.
We remain convinced that the current system of assessing requests and the demand for appointments in real-time, and a GP advising the most appropriate course of action, is the most efficient way of using a very finite resource, i.e. appointments.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone that emails or handwritten letters should not be used for urgent problems. These means of communication are likely to result in delays and may be harmful. If you need to contact the surgery about an urgent problem, please do so by telephone. Do remember, however, that emergencies require a 999 call.
Best wishes, as ever, from the team at Barton Family Practice.