On 5th June, our appointments system is changing

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We know that booking an appointment can be hard.

The last few years have been challenging for everyone. Throughout, we have done our best to make sure we have enough emergency on the day appointments each day. We know sometimes we don’t have enough, but we do our best. We have almost 19,000 patients and a limited number of clinicians so inevitably, appointments run out. Still, we try to ensure that every patient with an urgent need is contacted, whether they ring first thing in the morning or later in the day.

We know that booking a routine appointment (an appointment for something which probably doesn’t need urgent, on the day attention) can be really hard. This is a national problem.

The government has recently tasked all GP practices with improving access to routine appointments. This is still within the limited resources available to us – we have to use what we already have and try to do things differently. It’s something we’ve been working on for some time and we are now ready to put a plan into action.

We are trialling a change to the way you will access appointments.

From 5th June, when you contact us, we will relay your problem to a clinician while you wait. The clinician will be able to assess what kind of attention you need, whether that be an appointment with the surgery or another specialist service.  In some cases it may be possible to deal with your problem there and then.

At the same time, we will be opening up a greater number of advance appointments so that routine problems can be booked into those.

We envisage that by triaging problems in this way, we will not need to fill as many appointment slots, thereby freeing those slots up for routine problems. It will take careful monitoring and management, but we’ve seen it trialled successfully elsewhere.

As this system beds in, you may find you need to wait longer for your call to be answered. But the hope is that this extra clinical input at the point of your call will produce the best outcome for your needs. We know wait times can already be long – but please bear with us as we receive hundreds of calls daily and staff the phones as heavily as possible.

This all means that you no longer need to phone the surgery at 8 o’clock in the morning. Clinical input and appointments will be available equally throughout the day.

The aim for this system is that as we see more routine problems being dealt with, the need for urgent appointments to treat some problems will decrease.

We will keep doing our best and please be assured we will be responsive to making changes where necessary.

Thank you for reading.