Message to patients – 17 May 21
We would like to start by thanking patients for the support and good wishes offered to our team over the past year. We appreciate that the UK is on a road map to unlocking and as this process continues, you would all be forgiven for expecting the GP surgery to return to business as usual. However the guidance that we have (week starting 10th May) is that GP surgeries should continue to care for patients using the telephone triaging model. We are still open and here for you. We are continuing to provide services as we have been doing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We are prioritising the delivering of care and services based on clinical needs. This means that patients will be offered in the first instance a telephone consultation and where there is clinical need you will be offered by the clinical staff a face to face appointment. Please do not ask our reception team to book you a face to face appointment for a GP, this is not in their remit. Once you speak to a GP you can of course express your preference to be seen face to face.
We appreciate that patients have mixed feelings about how the telephone triaging system works. Being able to book a telephone consultation has made our services more accessible to some patients. While other patients feel that a telephone consultation is a “less thorough way” of being cared for. We can reassure you that where clinically appropriate patients are being provided with face to face appointments. Please bear in mind that the surgery has limited space in the waiting room, so one of the biggest restrictions to us offering face to face appointments is maintaining social distancing within our waiting room.
We have received criticism from patients that they cannot book appointments the same day or in their expected timeframe. In the last 3 months we have seen requests for GPs appointments and access to the surgery facilities increase dramatically. Please bear in mind that if a patient has a telephone triage appointment and then a face to face appointment, they will have taken up two appointment slots. Prior to the pandemic there would only have been the need for one appointment. These 2 factors are putting considerable pressure on our resources.
To help alleviate some of these problems we are now able to provide patients with the option to book directly with a physiotherapist or social prescriber. Both of these specialists are employed by our local Primary Care Network (PCN) and are only dedicated to care for patients in Rural Rother Practices. From July we will have the support of a clinical pharmacist, who will provide medication reviews for patients. We also have our very experienced Nurse Practitioner who can help with a variety of medical issues. The practice would encourage patients to access the Nurse Practitioner service where appropriate. The Nurse Practitioner is able to prescribe and refer in the same way a GP can. We are currently working with the PCN to enable more clinicians to join with us to provide additional services such as a mental health practitioner, pharmacist technician and care coordinators.
What can you do to help, please use the medical service which best suits your needs where possible. If you have a dental issue, please go to the dentist, if you have an eye condition, an optician will be able to help assess your eye better as they have the specialist equipment to assess your condition. Please access the NHS website for advice on how to treat minor conditions such as skin problems, i.e. fungal infections, colds and sore throats.
When you contact the surgery please be polite to our receptionist, they are currently finding that an increasing number of patients are aggressive towards them. The reception team do care, but it is upsetting and demoralising to be treated aggressively by the people they are trying to help. The reception team will ask you a series of questions, this allows the receptionist to book you with the right clinician and provide the GP, Physiotherapist, Nurse Practitioner or Social Prescriber with the information they need to provide medical care.
I hope this has given you an understanding of how we are trying to support patients during this difficult time, this is a National problem.