Just over a year ago GP practices were advised by NHS England to stop all pre bookable appointments. Patients were advised that they would need to speak to a GP on the telephone before a face to face appointment could be made. This was due to social distancing and to reduce spread of the virus in waiting rooms where the most vulnerable would be at risk.
As a practice, we hold three core principles. These are continuity of care, promoting self-care and providing timely and appropriate access to healthcare. We have always prided ourselves on providing same day access for routine calls on the telephone. This has been unique in the area.
Over the past year, the volume of calls has increased to a level that we now feel is unsafe. As a partnership, we are concerned that we are spending too much time on problems that can be managed elsewhere or in a more routine manner. The daily volume of calls is limiting the time available to spend with patients who most need care by their GP. This is an issue that has been recognised nationally.
As a practice, we have been working hard on what we can do to manage this situation and to ensure that our energies are focused on the right patients. Therefore, from Monday 7th June 2021 we will be providing pre bookable routine telephone appointments. Patients will receive a day and approximate time that their Doctor will phone. We will still be providing same day access to patients with an urgent medical problem. We have remained open throughout the pandemic and have been providing face to face appointments where these are needed. We will continue to operate a telephone first system, but rest assured that if a face to face appointment is needed the clinician you speak to will arrange this.
Alongside this change in the appointment system, we are recruiting extra clinical staff. We are delighted to inform you that a new, full time GP will be joining the team in Tetbury in September 2021. There is a national shortage of GPs and the NHS is supporting practices to broaden the range of staff we have available, problems which in the past would have been dealt with by a GP.
are now best managed by these highly trained experts. Patients will now have the option of speaking with a Musculoskeletal Practitioner for complaints relating to their back or limbs and our team of Pharmacists that can advise on all matters relating to medication. We have also recently recruited an Urgent Care Practitioner to help us manage acute health problems and we continue to support our Frailty Team and Nursing Home Nurse Practitioners.
Our reception teams may ask you more questions than you are used to, this is so that they can ensure you are booked with the right team first time. We ask our patients to help by understanding that the GP may not be the best placed person to help you and that our reception team will try to ensure you see the right person – this will include the wider NHS team beyond the Practice including seeing pharmacists for minor health ailments or self-referring to the Physiotherapy and Podiatry teams at Cirencester and Tetbury hospital for musculoskeletal and foot problems respectively. The NHS provides a lot of information through their website on health conditions.
From a nursing perspective, we have continued to offer face to face nursing appointments as appropriate during the course of the pandemic. We have also introduced an in house phlebotomy (blood taking) service on the Cirencester side of the practice during the pandemic. For patients with long term conditions, we will be offering a mix of telephone and face to face reviews. If following a telephone review we feel that you need to be seen face to face we will arrange this.
We would like to thank our patients for their understanding of what has been a very difficult past year in the health service.
The Phoenix Health Group.