Face-to-face or telephone appointment? Patients will now have the choice

We are pleased to announce that as of Monday 4th April, patients will have a choice over how they consult with their GP practice.

Our patients will be in the driving seat and will be able to choose whether they see their GP or other clinician face-to-face or consult with them over the telephone.

Since March 2020, due to the COVID pandemic, GP surgeries have had to change the way we have been working. The reason for this was due to COVID-19 being so widespread. We had a duty to protect our patients and staff and reduce the risk of everyone catching the virus. We have been triaging all patients by telephone, but if the GP or clinician needed to examine them they have been offered a face-to-face appointment – usually later that same day. Contrary to what you might have read in the papers WE HAVE NOT BEEN CLOSED. Throughout the pandemic we have provided more appointments than ever before and we have continued to see patients face-to-face whenever it has been clinically necessary to do so. The only thing which stopped was patients being able to book a face to face appointment for themselves.

However, we are happy to say that as restrictions are being lifted,  you will now be able to choose either a face-to-face or a telephone appointment.  (We will still however need to check with you that you don’t have any COVID- related symptoms before you come to the surgery).

Many patients have found the online ‘e-consultations’ and telephone/video consultations to be more convenient than having to take time off work to come and sit & wait in the surgery, and we are happy to say that ‘remote consultations’ will still be an option for anyone if those suit them better, e.g. due to their working pattern.

We will offer a mix of pre-bookable routine appointments and urgent ‘on the day’ appointments. This will help patients plan ahead for treatment & monitoring of less serious and longer-term conditions, and provide rapid access for problems which cannot wait. Routine appointments can be booked up to 4 – 8 weeks in advance. The urgent appointments cannot be booked in advance and will be released at 8:00am every day.

PLEASE NOTE: urgent ‘on the day’ appointments are shorter than routine appointments (so we can offer more of them). This means the GP or other clinician will only have time to deal with ONE urgent problem. Any non-urgent  issues such as stable long term health problems will not be dealt with during an urgent appointment. If there is anything that is not medically urgent which the patient would like to discuss with the clinician they will need to book a routine appointment for another day.

We know that patients are sometimes waiting a long time to get through to the practice by telephone and this creates understandable tension. This is due to increased demand on our services, and we encourage all patients to consider other ways of making contact if they are able, such as completing an e-Consult form via our website which will be responded to by the practice in a timely manner.

We also ask that our patients help us to help them by making sure they access the most appropriate service for their needs. These are our key messages:

  • Use your local pharmacy for advice and over the counter treatment
  • Try calling the practice later in the day if you don’t need an urgent appointment
  • Please use online services where possible to keep phone lines clear
  • Ensure you attend your appointment or cancel it if no longer required

Sadly, we still continue to have a high number of missed appointments. Appointments are incredibly precious during this time of extremely high demand. We encourage those who no longer need an appointment to make every effort to cancel in advance so it can be used by someone else.

Finally, whilst face coverings are no longer mandatory, the NHS is still asking people coming into surgeries to wear them. The Covid-19 virus is still circulating widely and testing show significant numbers of people are infected at any time. Some people coming into practices are extremely vulnerable to the virus, and we need to protect them. Therefore we will ask everyone attending to wear use a face covering.

We hope  the changes from the 4th April will be well received by our patients, and we look forward to receiving some positive feedback.

Many Thanks.

Sycamore House Surgery