Due to the coronavirus pandemic the past 6 months have been difficult for patients and the practice. We recognise that many of you are getting frustrated with the current service offered and appreciate that the telephones lines are continually busy.
NHSE has instructed GP surgeries to manage patients remotely where possible to help stop the spread of coronavirus. In this update we will try to explain the challenges at hand and ways you can help us to provide the best service we can to all in the community.
There has been a significant increase in the number of calls to the surgery. This has been compounded by the fact we had to remove the facility to book appointments online and because we do not want patients to walk into the surgery to book. Below we will try to explain some of the reasons:
No Walk-in patients: Patients who attend the surgery are often feeling unwell or may have symptoms of Coronavirus. All patients need to be triaged before attending the surgery. This enables us to help reduce the spread of Coronavirus and also take any necessary precautions.
Online booking reactivated: Initially, it was necessary to switch off the online booking facility. However, we recognise that this is now putting extra pressure on the telephone lines, so we have recently reactivated pre-booking of TELEPHONE appointments online.
Waiting time: The reception team are answering your calls as quickly as possible. The past few months have been a challenge with staff members absent due to shielding or isolating. Our remaining staff have been excellent in covering wherever possible.
Longer call time: Each call is taking slightly longer to process, due to the receptionist needing to ask more questions regarding coronavirus before booking an appointment.
We appreciate that it is frustrating waiting for the receptionist to answer but please be patient and assured that your call is important to us.
If you do not want to wait on the telephone, why not try using our online consultation facility which can be found on our website and is called ‘Consult with your doctor online’. You can access this by going to www.appletreemedical.webgp.com/. Your consultation goes directly to the clinician on duty and they will respond by 6pm the following working day, either by text message, email or telephone call.
If your query is not urgent, why not email your question through to the reception team. The email address is: [email protected]
SMS TEXT MESSAGE
To reduce the risk of receptionists blocking the phone lines whilst make outgoing calls, we have increased our use of text messages. This not only releases phone lines but is a more efficient use of time. If we do not have an up-to-date mobile number for you, please inform the receptionist.
NHS APP OR SYSTMONLINE
Register for one of our online services and order your repeat medication through your app. This is available 24/7 and also reduces call volume.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, how you contact your GP surgery will be different at the moment. This is to limit face to face contact where possible and help stop the spread of coronavirus.
Face to face appointments ARE available to all patients, and have been throughout the entire pandemic, but you will be asked to discuss your condition over the phone or online first to assess whether a face to face appointment is appropriate.
Face to Face Appointments
If the clinician does require you to attend the surgery for a face to face appointment please:
· Wear a face covering
· Follow the advice of the clinician as to where you are to go (Green or Red Entrance)
· You may be advised to wait in your car.
· Your temperature will be taken by your clinician before your consultation.
Most annual reviews e.g. Asthma, Diabetes, COPD, Hypertension etc. are being done via a telephone consultation. Once your annual review is booked, please have up-to-date height, weight and blood pressure measurements in readiness for your telephone review.
Some medication reviews can be done without any consultation with the patient but if you have concerns regarding your medicine not working properly or you are experiencing side effects, then please don’t hesitate to request a telephone review with a clinician.
Thank you for your ongoing understanding and patience. We appreciate your frustration with the current system. One of the great privileges of General Practice is getting to know the people in the community we serve. Therefore, we too would love to get back to a more “normal” system as we certainly miss the personal element of meeting people face to face without the constraints of PPE. Unfortunately, however, this system of “total triage” of appointments will be the normality for the foreseeable future.
The Doctors and Staff at Appletree Medical Practice