Many of you will be aware of the current media attention around access to GP surgeries. You may also be aware that we have had to make significant changes to our patient access and we wanted to clarify the situation.
We wish to reassure our patients that we have been open and seeing patients (including patients with COVID) throughout the pandemic providing significantly more consultations than ever before. At the Elms Medical Centre we take great pride in our level of access. We have used total telephone triage for over ten years to maximise this and ensure patients are able to access the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.
What has Changed?
The volume and complexity of consultations has been consistently increasing over the last few years, even before the pandemic. COVID has worsened this situation and we have struggled to meet this day to day demand. The stress on both clinical and administrative staff has been enormous at times, and we felt that the situation had become unsustainable without significant change. Otherwise there was a very real risk of burnout of colleagues, which would have further complicated our ability to provide an excellent service.
The changes and increased pressures that are happening in general practice had begun long before the pandemic. Patients are living longer with more medical problems and medications. The complexity of general practice has increased. However the number of GPs has decreased over recent years. We are dealing with many more patients each day than we did pre-COVID. We can receive over 1200 calls a day from patients seeking medical advice. The complexity of maintaining social distancing within the practice and having to use our isolation rooms for assessing patients with possible or confirmed COVID-19 symptoms has further compromised our ability to meet patient demand. In addition to these factors, we often have staff off work isolating or unwell with COVID-19. As a result of the above factors we have needed to make changes to our access system.
Change to our triage system
Our absolute priority is maintaining safe and prompt care. This requires us to prioritise the patients who need care most urgently. In order to do so we have instituted some changes to our clinical access.
If you wish to speak to a clinician about a medical problem (that may require an appointment) please contact us during morning triage between 8am and 11am.
If you wish to speak to a clinician about results, referrals or a non-clinical matter please contact us during afternoon triage between 1pm and 3pm. During this time we will still take calls from patients requiring clinical advice.
You can also contact us via Econsult during our opening hours for a response within 48hours.
Outside of these times medical emergencies and urgent queries will still be transferred to a clinician for assessment.
We aim to maintain routine access during these hours. However we may need to close triage early if we reach capacity for our appointments available during the day. We would advise that you call as early as possible if you require medical advice.
If patients are more than 5 minutes late for an appointment, it will be at the clinicians discretion whether they are seen or not. Please be aware, it may not be possible to see you that day and you will have to contact the surgery again to rearrange your appointment.
If you have any questions or queries about this please do not hesitate to get in touch.