It has been a long and arduous pandemic for all concerned, but we feel the time is right now to move back towards a more normal “business as usual” setup. This will mean a small change in the appointment system which we will outline below. The new appointment system will “go live” on Monday 20th June 2022
What we’re asking
In order to facilitate this change we have really only two small asks of our patients:
i) that you call us in the morning on the day that you wish for your problem to be dealt with. This applies whether your problem is of a routine or urgent nature.
ii) that you have some patience and understanding whilst the changeover to the new system is bedding in
Why we’re asking this
For many years now at Barlow Medical Centre we have put a huge amount of our resources into providing on the day access. Clearly there is no ideal system that will suit everyone all of the time, but we have found that this is what most patients want. It also enables patients to be seen quickly when they are unwell, and it reduces wasted appointments from patients not turning up. Unfortunately this means there are very limited numbers of appointments that can be booked in advance, but overall this has been the case for quite some time and is the system that works for most people, most of the time.
What happens on the day
On the day a patient calls us, our reception team will take a few moments longer than usual to find out the nature of the problem, and this will help them to ensure that the patient is booked into the ideal type of appointment for them and their problem.
The reception team have had extra training on this and will be using a new decision making tool which has been written by our own GPs.
New types of clinicians
There has been a national shortage of GPs for many years now and, in line with government and NHS directives, we have developed the practice team to include many more staff who are fully trained to see, assess, diagnose and treat a specific range of clinical problems. These professionals include:
- Minor Illness Nurses
- Physician Associates
- Clinical Pharmacists
- “First Contact” Physiotherapists
- Mental Health Practitioners
They are all highly trained and competent professionals who help share the workload of our practice so that we can continue to provide access to a GP when this is clinically necessary. They all work closely in conjunction with our team of GPs and are fully supported and, where necessary, supervised in their roles. Feedback from patients who have seen them has been excellent across the board.
Benefits of the new system
There are a number of benefits which we envisage the new system will bring to our patient group:
- Potentially more appointment availability overall
- Easier access to face-to-face appointments, including appointments directly bookable by our reception team (as long as sufficient clinical detail is given to them)
- A wider range of available appointments and clinical expertise, including appointments with Physios, Pharmacists, Physician Associates and Minor Illness Nurses (who are able to diagnose, treat and prescribe)
The main, and perhaps only, downside we envisage is that the reception team will spend a few extra moments on the phone ensuring that the correct processes are followed and the appropriate appointment type is booked. It may therefore take a little longer to get through, especially initially as the new system beds in.
It is likely that our busiest times – i.e. first thing in the morning – will be the most affected by this. We are bringing in extra staff at those busiest times to try and mitigate the problem as far as possible, but again we politely ask for your patience and understanding during this initial period. We are also very hopeful that this will be significantly outweighed by the greater range of options and better outcomes that the new system will bring once you have spoken to our reception team.
Let’s all work together to ensure that the new system is a success so that we can ensure sustainable working conditions for our staff as well as improved access and services for our patients.