57 Woodland Road, Northfield, Birmingham, B31 2HZ
Telephone: 0121 475 1065
CURRENT PRACTICE SERVICE UPDATE
Appointment System – January 2023
We have recently undertaken a review of our appointment system, as we have periodically throughout 2022. It appears that workload has changed and increased again. With the onset of winter we are seeing the number presenting with respiratory conditions and also the number of unwell children increasing to unprecedented levels and this has to be managed alongside all of the other reasons patients reach out to their GP. The current levels of demand are beyond anything the NHS has experienced at any time, before, during or since the pandemic and we are seeing its effects.
We are therefore changing our system in an effort to try and maintain safe workload for our GP’s but also to try and fit in as many patients as possible. We know many people are frustrated by what they perceive as a lack of appointments, but we are already doing more appointments than ever before (more even than when we did open surgery).
What we have found is that we are often undertaking two appointments for each same day/urgent patient, typically this starts with a telephone call and is then followed up face to face, usually later the same day. This means the same patients are getting two appointments when there are a lot of people who can’t even access one urgent appointment.
With effect from 9th January 2023 – we will move to a system where all first appointments will be time allocated, face to face appointments. This can be for an urgent same day appointment or for a pre-booked routine appointment.
For patients contacting the surgery you should expect to be offered a timed appointment to attend for a consultation to address one problem. If you have multiple problems you will need to make a pre-booked double appointment but you should be aware that there might be a slightly longer wait for this.
There will be a very small number of telephone consultations available for urgent same day appointments, but these will be protected as much as possible for housebound patients and those who cannot attend in person as they are at work.
By seeing as many patients as possible face to face at the first appointment we should have more appointments available overall as we will eliminate the duplicate contacts we are currently seeing. As outlined above these duplicate contacts have become a recent issue in line with the onset of increased levels of respiratory and childhood illness. Throughout the pandemic and beyond we have been able to safely provide most care over the phone as the first appointment, but this has now changed.
While we no longer see routine use of social distancing or masks we ask patients to be aware that the waiting room is very small and will be significantly busier. This in itself increases the risk of illness transmission. Therefore we ask the following –
We know not everyone will be able to stick to these requests but we should all try and just be aware of those around us and look out for each other as much as possible.
As we have previously announced Woodland Road Surgery is not going to return to open surgery. We no longer have enough GP’s to deliver a walk in service. We would never have been able to provide open surgery with levels of demand as they are at present, it simply wouldn’t have been safe to try and see the numbers we do now via the sit and wait approach.
Booking Telephone/Video/Face to Face Appointments
There are a variety of appointment types available to prebook. As we continue to see spikes in viruses we might have to pause prebooking periodically depending on absence rates within the team. If you check our home page here you can see any current service alerts which might be in force.
Same Day Emergencies
In addition to the prebooked appointments we run a system for those of you who need urgent contact with a GP for a new or worsening problem which cannot safely wait for a routine consultation. We view this system as the core of our services and it is this that will be protected at all times.
If you advise one of our receptionists that the problem the condition you wish to discuss with a GP is ‘Personal’ then you will be offered the next available routine consultation. We have had to implement this rule due to the increasing number of people using ‘personal’ as a means to speak to a GP urgently only to then ask for a prescription or a fit note. For details of how to appropriately request prescriptions or fit notes please read the relevant sections below.
We do understand that some people feel uncomfortable disclosing the nature of their illness to the reception staff but we can assure you that anything you disclose will only be used to prioritise call backs and all information is confidential from the minute you make a call to the surgery. Alternatively if you do not want to disclose anything but you don’t feel that you can wait for a routine consultation then we ask that you use the Online Consultation system, again this can be prioritised in the same safe way without you needing to discuss anything with a receptionist. You can also put your request into an email if you find that easier than talking on the telephone.
Every day we are wasting up to an hour of GP time due to patients who request a call back only for the call to then go unanswered. The patient then calls us back again to rearrange, the GP again gets no answer and so the cycle continues. We simply do not have the capacity to continue with this. It is not every patient, but it is an increasing minority and we have to take steps to prevent this lost appointment time.
The GP will call you no more than TWICE, if the call remains unanswered on the second attempt the appointment will be closed and you will have to arrange a call for another day.
Also patients should be aware that we will only leave a message on your voicemail if there is a personalised message clearly identifying that the phone number belongs to the patient. We risk breaching confidentiality if we leave a message on voicemail when we cannot verify we are calling the patient direct.
This remains the most efficient and effective method to access care, including where you believe you need to speak to a GP. The system can be accessed from the home page of our website and we respond to all online consultations within 2 working days (often it is much quicker than this) – www.woodlandroadsurgery.nhs.uk
We ask again that patients stop requesting urgent call backs to arrange a prescription. This is not appropriate use of GP time. We ask that you order your prescription 2 working days before you are due to run out either via the online system, calling the POD (number at the top of the home page) or by emailing us at email@example.com If you are going to run out of medication or have another query related to your regularly prescribed medication please also use the email address above. This inbox is checked throughout the day and the reception team can help with most issues and can also arrange an urgent prescription when necessary.
Anyone who uses the on the day/emergency call backs to ask for a prescription will find their request is declined and they will be asked to order the prescription in the correct way.
All patients receiving repeat medication will need a review AT LEAST once a year and we are continuing to catch up with routine medication reviews that have been delayed during the pandemic response. We are prioritising this work very carefully to ensure that those with the most complex medications receive reviews as a priority. The date your review is due is printed on your prescription or can easily be obtained by emailing us to ask. If you know your medication review is due please ask one of our reception team to book you in for a review with one of our clinicians (this might not be with a GP). A medication review is NOT an emergency and does not need to be done via a same day call back and in most cases it does not require GP input. We will always provide a prescription to patients who have gone beyond their review date as long as there is a review booked to take place within the next few weeks.
Fit Note (also referred to as a Sick Note or Med3)
For all illness you should treat the first 7 days as the self-certification period. You only need to contact us if you feel you will be unable to return to work after this initial 7 day period. As this will usually be a new or urgent problem you can ask for a same day call back to get clinical input on your condition as well as arranging a note.
Where you are asking for a continuation of a long term Fit/Sick Note then we ask that you do this via an online consultation, by speaking to a receptionist or by emailing us. Please do not ask for a same day GP consultation for this purpose and anyone who does use this route will find they are signposted back to the correct process.
We cannot back date a note for a condition that you have not already spoken to a Dr about and we cannot postdate notes in any circumstances.
Covid and Covid Testing
Covid tests are no longer freely available, although you can purchase them in most pharmacies. We are not able to provide or prescribe tests.
We ask all patient coming into the surgery to wear a mask if they can, we operate from a very small building and this will help protect everyone from the many viruses circulating in the population.
You are still be able to arrange a home visit if you are housebound, please call us before 10am whenever possible. Home visits aren’t offered to normally mobile patients so please don’t ask. You may be visited by a Dr or Paramedic who you do not know, but please be reassured that they will become familiar with your medical history in readiness for the visit.
Throughout the pandemic we maintained most of our services; others have been reinstated as lab services have allowed. All services are now back in place. If you have a specific enquiry please email us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Our main email address is email@example.com and you can email us with any queries you may have. For example you could ask for test results, a medical report, arrange online access to your records, chase up a referral or just ask for non-clinical advice.