Summary on practice audit of triage system
Prior to January 2017, our wait for face to face appointments had rocketed to an average of around 4-6 weeks. This meant that patients with potentially serious problems were waiting an unacceptably long time to see a doctor. As the doctors were all fully booked weeks in advance, there was no flexibility to fit in patients in a safer timeframe. Demand on appointments nationally is rising 10% every year, and patient lists are rising with the increasing local population. NHS England funding has not risen to meet this demand.
An independent body was brought in to review our appointments system, assess the level of demand on appointments and present us with options to meet this demand better.
The result of this was the new telephone triage system. This means that all doctors now have availability on the same day. We are able to offer more appointments than we previously did this way, as simpler issues can be resolved over the telephone. More complex problems are then brought in at a mutually agreed time for face-to-face assessment. Doctors often fill up quickly, so if your doctor is full and the problem needs to be dealt with the same day, we take turns to act as the emergency doctor for the day. Our emergency doctor has no ‘cap’ so you will ALWAYS be offered urgent care if you clinically require it.
We know it can be hard to take calls if you are working, driving, etc. Please let our reception team know if there are times when it is impossible for you to pick up your phone. Employers are obliged to let you seek medical attention, just as they had to release you for face-to-face appointments using our old system.
We have now been using this system for nearly a year, and have had the opportunity to study the impact on patient care. We found the following:
- A 21% drop in our patients attending Accident and Emergency departments
- A 33% drop in the waiting time between initial contact with our surgery and first appointment in specialist care for our cancer patients
- 80% continuity of care (seeing the same GP every time) for patients with mental health issues
- An average wait for a routine telephone appointment with your usual doctor of 1.6 days (the range in this study was 0 to 6 days) (The wait for an emergency appointment is always 0 days as we do not have a cap on our emergency duty system, unlike many surgeries)
- An 80% reduction in waiting times for face-to-face appointments, as we can now book double appointments for patients with complex or multiple problems
- A rise of 2818 more appointments offered over the corresponding 6 month period in the previous year
- Consistent performance above the national average in EVERY element of the independently conducted national GP Patient Survey (please see https://gp-patient.co.uk/)
- Management of multiple uncomplicated conditions was consistently adherent to Public Health England guidelines and completed in less time over the telephone than in a face-to-face appointment
Although we are proud of what has been achieved, we know this is not a perfect system and we value suggestions on how we can make it better for our patients. We run a Patient Participation Group to allow patients to meet together in the presence of our practice manager and one of our GP partners to support us in adapting our systems to meet the ever-increasing needs of our patient population.
Please contact the practice manager at Wooda if you are interested in joining, on 01237 471071.
Have your say to improve care - the Friends and Family Test
We would like your feedback on the care or treatment we give you any time you visit the GP or have contact with the practice.
Put us to the test and tell us what is working and what we can improve. You can say what you think without giving your name and we will use the information to plan improvements to our services. Please take a minute to complete our Friends and Family Test online or you can complete it whilst at the surgery. Thank you!
Meet Bob and learn how best to manage minor ailments and help to reduce antiobiotic resistance
Pharmacy First is a new scheme which allows people with certain minor ailments and conditions to go straight to their pharmacist to receive a consultation and treatment without needing to visit their GP to get a prescription first.
Annual health checks for patients aged over 75
If you are aged over 75 you are entitled to an annual health check with your GP. To book an appointment please contact the reception team on 01237 471 071 or book an appointment online by visiting our home page.
999 and 111 telephone services
999 is the service to ring for medical emergencies (i.e. where the patient's life may be at risk)
NHS 111 (a free service) is now operational in North Devon - dial 111 to ring get medical advice and help in non emergency situations and particularly when the surgery is closed
For more information go to the www.nhs.uk/111 website.