Changes to accessing appointments at Queen Square Medical Practice
We have received a lot of feedback from our patients over the past several months regarding accessing appointments at the surgery, as well as long wait times on our phone lines.
In addition, newly updated NHS and Government advice on access to General Practice, has meant we have made the decision to make some changes to how our GP appointments are structured.
We have experienced a significant increase in the number of requests leading to unprecedented demand on our services, and to the extent that demand is consistently overwhelming our available capacity. General Practice is under extreme pressure, as are all services within the NHS at this time.
A good GP practice ensures it is safe by ensuring there are always staff on duty with the right skills, knowledge and experience to prioritise the limited resources available and to ensure patients receive the best care, safely.
To enable us to be safe and work effectively, we have trained our receptionists and developed an appointment system which guides patients to the most appropriate appointment. Our receptionists work to guidance established by our doctors.
Please help us to work safely and effectively and follow the Receptionists advice when contacting the Practice for an appointment.
What is the new NHS Guidance?
New NHS guidance suggests that patients contacting the surgery with medically urgent problems should be offered an appointment to be seen the same day, and all other problems should be offered a routine appointment within 2 weeks wherever possible.
In order to achieve this expectation for as many of our patients as possible we will be trialling a new way of allocating GP appointments from the 15th May 2023.
When you contact reception, you will first be asked ‘Is this problem a medical emergency?’ If the answer to this question is ‘yes’ then we will direct you either to the ambulance service, or to Lancaster Hospital.
Urgent Medical Problems
The next question you will be asked is ‘Is this an urgent medical problem which needs to be seen by a doctor today?’ If the answer to this question is ‘yes’ then you will be given an appointment to come to the surgery that day to see a clinician. These appointments are shorter and will be able to address only the single clinically urgent problem.
We will not be able to cover additional problems in these same day, urgent appointments.
There will be times when our available capacity has all gone, and therefore our ability to continue to operate a safe service is compromised. At these times, you may be directed to an appropriate alternative NHS service, such as 111.
Non-Urgent and Routine Medical Problems
If you require a non-urgent appointment, our reception staff will offer a routine appointment within the next fortnight wherever possible. Wherever possible we will allocate you to your regular GP who knows you best, or to whichever GP/clinician may have already been dealing with the problem. There is good evidence to show that waiting slightly longer to see a clinician who knows your case will give better outcomes in the long term. These are the appointments where we can address longer term queries and concerns such as new problems that are not urgent, chronic disease management, medication changes, follow ups etc. If you are aware that you have several problems which need to be discussed, then we would ask you to let the receptionist know so that an appropriate appointment can be allocated.
In order to give this new system, the best chance of working we would be grateful for your help and support. We ask that you consider carefully if your condition is an emergency or urgent for that day so as to ensure we have sufficient appointments available for those who need to see us. In addition, once you have been allocated a routine appointment, we will not be able to bring this forward unless the problem becomes clinically urgent in which case, we would offer one of the shorter ‘on the day’ appointments.
It is likely to take a few weeks before we are fully established in this new system so it may be that the waits are a little longer during this time whilst things settle down.
We ask for your understanding and patience initially whilst all patients and staff are getting used to the new system. We are aware that some patients do not quite fit into either category and may need appointments booking further in advance. Individual clinicians will still be able to book these appointments where needed. The system for booking Nurse appointments will remain as it is currently whilst we address the GP appointment changes.
As always, we are grateful for the support of our patients to ensure the surgery operates safely and effectively.