Gillingham Medical Practice are about to change the way patients make appointments. Long gone will be the days when everyone queues for ages at 8.30am on the phone to get an appointment – they are introducing a triage system to ensure patients are seen by the right person in a timely manner. Like all changes, there will be concern and lots of questions – so here’s all the info you need:
We need your help…
We are looking toward a post-COVID future, whilst still expecting to be vaccinating our community against COVID until the end of the year. As of 30th March, The Barn Surgery will be undergoing extensive refurbishment requiring it’s temporary closure. We are expecting this to last at least six months.
From April 14th, we are bringing in a better system of allocating appointments, with the clinical team assigning the right type of appointment at the right time, based on information from our patients.
Our goal is to produce the best possible system – Total Triage should mean that the care you receive from us is delivered faster, more safely and of the best possible quality.
We will ask you to help us by giving us some information about your symptoms, and what you’re hoping we might be able to do to help. The easiest way for you to do this is by completing an eConsult. If this is not possible, the next option is to answer some simple triage questions with one of our Patient Services Administrators, to give us the information we need to give you the right appointment. Our entire team subscribe to the same very high standards of confidentiality.
We will not ever prevent anyone from receiving care – the goal is to deliver care that is:
FASTER – Total Triage with eConsult requires no waiting on the phone and will help you avoid the rush for appointments when the phone lines open.
SAFER – Total Triage with eConsult highlights symptoms to us that could be serious, and so reduces the risk of patients with these problems not being able to get through to us on the phone.
BETTER – Under Total Triage, appointments will be allocated by clinicians, which will allow us to make sure that we give you the right appointment at the right time with the right clinician.
Our aim is to maintain continuity of care whenever possible. Continuity of care means each patient ideally seeing the same, or a small team of doctors, rather than lots of different doctors. We think this helps us to spot more easily when something is seriously wrong, and helps us to help you make difficult decisions, if they come up.
Our fabulous team of Patient Services Administrators are key to implementing this system, as the vital link between our community and our clinical team.
There are lots of other ways you can help us make this a success such as signing up for online access via SystmOnline and using the NHS app.
Thank you for your continued support,
Katie Pearce (Practice Manager), Dr Lewis and Partners
Q & A’s
I don’t have access to email – does this mean I can’t receive care?
Please call us and speak with a member of our friendly Patient Services team. They will ask you some simple triage questions, so that you can be given the right appointment with the right member of our team.
Normally my relative or carer contacts the practice on my behalf – can they do this under Total Triage?
Absolutely. We are used to receiving eConsults or other contacts from patient’s representatives, such as family, friends, carers or care home staff. In order to then disclose confidential information we would need the patient’s consent on record.
I need to speak to a Doctor very urgently – what should I do?
Problems which could be life threatening are best managed by ringing 999, as they are likely to be time critical and will need hospital care. Otherwise please complete an eConsult or speak to one of our Patient Services Administrators.
Is there a best time of day to send in an eConsult?
The eConsults received through our Total Triage system will be monitored and actioned throughout the day – what time you contact us will have no bearing on when we can see you. The experience of fighting for an appointment at 8.30am or 2pm will be a thing of the past.
What do I do if I need medical advice at the weekend or evening?
This hasn’t changed. You can access eConsult to obtain lots of useful information, use the NHS app or NHS 111 service., or ring 999 in an emergency.
When can I complete and send an eConsult?
You can complete an eConsult any time of the day or night, from first thing on a Monday morning until 1830 on Friday evening.
How soon will I hear after sending my eConsult?
We will tell you how we’re going to respond within 24 hours, in terms of which team member will help you, at what time and in what kind of appointment.
What if I don’t want to answer any questions, as I don’t feel comfortable giving my details/symptoms to a receptionist?
Our Patient Services team subscribe to the same very high standards of confidentiality as our medical staff and take pride in their role as a professional, highly trained link between our patients and clinicians. Part of this role is the ability to empathise and respond accordingly when patients find it uncomfortable to discuss their symptoms. We would not prevent access to our services in these circumstances.
Won’t this make it harder to speak with my usual GP or discuss an existing condition?
One of the benefits of Total Triage is that it will help us re-instate continuity of care, after the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. You are more likely to see or speak to your usual GP under Total Triage than at any other time.
How do you know that the Total Triage system will be beneficial?
Our colleagues in other Practices who have implemented a total Triage System give us assurance that patients receive faster, safer care through having appointments with the right person in a timely manner. The system has been carefully designed and analysed to make it more likely that we can respond to more patients, and give us the best chance of being available if you’re really poorly.
If the COVID-19 vaccination programme is successful and cases fall – why can’t we expect GP services to go back to how they were before?
New data has shown us that each day we aren’t receiving information from enough patients who want our help. We don’t wish to continue like this. We have also been fighting for a number of years to have our town centre site, The Barn Surgery, made fit for the future. For these reasons we wish to start allocating appointments on the basis of clinician-led decision making, using information from our patients about what they want us to help with.
Is the Barn Surgery shut indefinitely?
No! The necessary building works will take approximately 6 months. All patients will be seen at Peacemarsh surgery during this time. We have secured additional consulting space at Peacemarsh to make this work for our patients.
Does this apply to nursing appointments, injections, dressings or blood tests?
No – the simple rule is that if you would normally ask to see or speak to a GP or nurse practitioner, then Total Triage will apply. For practice nurse or HCA appointments, please speak to one of our Patient Services Administrators, who can book these in directly.
I didn’t have my usual annual review last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions. What should I do?
Please navigate to the option “Start a review,” at the bottom of the right hand column of options on the eConsult page, then select “Medication Review.” Your GP will let reception know if you need a blood test. If you cannot use eConsult, please contact our Patient Services Administrators.
Do I need to send an eConsult or answer triage questions to request my medications?
No – please use Systmonline, the NHS APP or your repeat prescription slip. Patients who are housebound or suffering from certain disabilities can request their prescription over the telephone between 3pm and 6pm.
Can I send you an email instead?
We don’t think that email is a safe system to receive medical queries – it is so easy to miss an email, and email doesn’t highlight potentially serious symptoms in the way that eConsult does. eConsult, or answering triage questions from our Patient Services Administrators, is so much safer that we would ask you not to use email to contact the practice.
How do I complete an eConsult?
Please head to our website www.gillinghamsurgery.co.uk and click on “Consult your GP online,” under Online Services, or click on “Online Consultation,” in the middle of the home page.
How can I find out more about eConsult?
https://econsult.net/nhs-patients gives a lot of useful information..