We rightly hear and read a lot in the media about the problems patients face in ‘getting a GP appointment’. This is the reality at most GP surgeries, and every surgery has different ways to try and ensure that patients get the care they need in a timely fashion. This is probably the most important section of our website, explaining how we organise care for all our patients.
GP appointments are only one important part of the care we provide. A routine appointment with the doctor or nurse who understands you and your health is desirable if you want to discuss longstanding (chronic) health conditions. More pressing problems may be dealt with by other members of the healthcare team with access to your medical records, sometimes face-to-face and sometimes in a [telephone consultation].
Some appointments are available to book without needing to speak to a receptionist – useful if the surgery is closed. They can be booked via this website [link] or from our automated phone menu (option ?).
Our receptionist will offer you the first available routine appointment with a GP, advanced nurse practitioner, practice nurse or health care assistant. This is usually some days hence, and may be longer if you wish to see a particular GP or nurse. If you believe you need to speak with a nurse or doctor sooner than the first available routine appointment, the receptionist will pass your details to our [duty GP or nurse practitioner], who will contact you promptly to discuss things with you further.
When booking an appointment, please ask to be signed up to our free text messaging service, to confirm and remind you of your upcoming appointment. Our text messaging service has reduced [missed appointments] by approximately one third, but far too many surgery appointment remain wasted. If you don’t intend to keep a booked appointment, please phone or [email] us in good time, in order that another patient can make use of it.
Our GPs and advanced nurse practitioner take turns in being duty clinician, dealing with urgent matters and problems you believe won’t wait until a [routine appointment]. We don’t like keeping patients sitting in the waiting room, and so ask that in the first instance you phone with any urgent problem. The duty doctor or nurse strives to make a prompt initial phone contact, but our availability has made us victims of our own success. The duty nurse or GP may deal with over 100 patient contacts each day.
If you believe you have an urgent problem, please phone the surgery as early as possible in the working day in order that we can plan patient care. Please tell the receptionist a little about your problem in order that we can prioritise serious illness. Please make sure you are easily contactable in return.
Depending on the nature of your problem, the duty clinician may offer a [telephone consultation], or a face-to-face consultation with a GP or nurse at the practice. If you and the doctor or nurse agree that you have a serious health problem that prevents you coming to surgery, they may offer a [home visit]. They may suggest a more appropriate health care provider, such as the Minor Injury Unit, a dentist or an optician.
Telephone consultations play an increasing role in GP and nurse care. They aren’t suitable for a lot of medical problems, but are safe, convenient for patients and clinicians, and an effective use of time when used correctly. Spilsby Surgery uses telephone consultations as part of same-day care by our [duty doctor or nurse], and for follow-up consultations for some patients with established problems.
Ease of telephone access causes its own problems – the more phone calls we deal with, the less time we have for each caller! Before asking to speak with a nurse or GP, please consider if you could find better information or advice elsewhere, for example the [internet], [NHS111], the [local pharmacy], [dentists] or [opticians].
Home visiting continues to play a small but vital role in GP and nurse care for patients housebound by their illnesses, and for patients with life-limiting illness only.