Improving Access to your GP Surgery
Public satisfaction with general practice remains high, but increasingly, patients are reporting more difficulty in accessing services. Practices would like to offer better access, but that they are experiencing increasing pressure and are having difficulties in offering their patients timely appointments. This is frustrating for both practice staff and for patients alike
The latest National Patient Survey results show that in Heywood Middleton & Rochdale, patient satisfaction varies. A range of factors contribute to whether patients feel they have good access to general practice care, including practice location, opening times, ease of arranging appointments, and speed of access.
Sometimes though, the GP isn’t really the best person to see. Patients could be seen and treated quicker by a nurse or a pharmacist for example, and in some cases, the GP practice might not be the right place at all for the query.
Rochdale Health Alliance is working closely with all practices in the borough and with the Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group on a new scheme which aims to help improve access to general practice services. This is a scheme that aims to improve access for patients and support practices by ensuring that Patients are seen by the right professional for their needs
Care Navigation & Active Signposting
Nationally information submitted by 56 GPs for over 5,128 consultations showed that in total, for 27 per cent of appointments, patients would have been better served by either going to the pharmacist (as part of the minor ailments scheme), seeing an optician if they had a minor eye condition, seeing another health care professional within the practice, e.g. a nurse or health care assistant and in some cases accessing another service, such as social care.
So what is Care Navigation?
Care navigators are receptionists and administration staff who with specialist training, have additional skills and will provide a crucial practice role in improving access to primary care.
What does this mean for patients?
When you contact the practice you will be asked some questions by the care navigator. This helps to ensure that you see the right professional for your needs, which is not always the GP. Please be assured that if you need to see the GP you will still see the GP.
All GP Practices in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale will have trained Care Navigators in place later this year and will begin Active Signposting. There may be a settling in period for this new service, we ask for your support and patience whilst this takes place. Hopefully patients will then begin to see improvements to how they access primary care services for the future.
What is clinical triage?
Requests for urgent appointments are passed to a dedicated GP who will ensure the patient is dealt with by the most appropriate person in the Healthcare Team. This will result in fewer inappropriate GP appointments and better use of the surgery Nursing Team and other Healthcare professionals (e.g. District Nurses). The aim is to ensure that patients are seen quickly and efficiently by the most appropriate person, dependant on the individual problem.
Each Practice in Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale will triage requests for urgent on the day appointments made, once all appointment slots have been taken for the day. This may mean that
a) your issue is dealt with over the telephone
b) You may be referred to another healthcare professional who is better placed to deal with your issue, or
c) You may be asked to come into the surgery so that the GP can see you
The aim of clinical triage is to ensure that you are dealt with in the best way to meet your needs.
Patient on Line Services
Many patients already use the on line services available for their GP Practice.
GP online services allow you to access a range of services via your computer or mobile. Once you have signed up, you will be able to:
· book or cancel appointments online with a GP or nurse
· renew or order repeat prescriptions online
· view parts of your GP health record, including information about medication, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results
The service is free. Everyone who is registered with a GP can have access to their practice's online services.
There is extremely good feedback from patients for these new services. If you have not tried these services then please ask the receptionist at your GP Practice, were they will be happy to register and guide you through these options
Practice opening times
From October 2017, all practices across Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale will be open from 8.00am to 6.30pm and will have their telephone lines on. This means that appointment requests can be made from 8.00 in the morning or that patients could call in on their way to and from work to pick up a prescription or book an appointment. Please note that surgery consultation times are not changing, this is about patients being able to access the practice during those hours.
Reducing DNA (Did Not Attend) Appointments
You will all have seen figures in your GP Practice waiting room which highlights the number of DNAs per month. These are usually very high. Each DNA is an appointment that could have been rebooked for another patient.
Please support your GP Practice by contacting the surgery if you are unable to keep an appointment. This may be hard if phones are busy, but as part of the GP Access Programme we are implementing new avenues which may help. The text system used by practices to remind patients of their appointments has an option to inform whether you can attend or not. Some GP Practices are also looking at specific phone lines, where a message can be left by a patient if they cannot attend an appointment
Again, these systems will take time to settle in, but please help support your GPs and their staff whilst this occurs.