How many appointments are we offering?
We feel it is important to be transparent with our patients. As such, we hope over the coming months to be able to share more regarding how we are operating, as well as how best to access our services, in order to help patients get the most out of our available resources.
Currently we, as well as the majority of UK General Practice, are in crisis. We are needing to offer more appointments than ever have before without the availability of any additional staff.
We very much understand the frustration of engaged phone lines. It is a reflection of the increased number of people contacting us, when actually the number of new patients registered with us, has remained mostly static. To help with this frustration we have increased the number of phone lines as well as the number of people answering them. This has however, made minimal difference since the number of people contacting us simply increased as a consequence.
The next step was to open up online appointment requests as an alternative avenue for patients to contact us. This so far has been largely successful. Our online forms are open 8am until 9am and take around 5 minutes to complete. The online request then reaches either a receptionist or GP who then offers an appropriate appointment or course of action. It is a far quicker way of contacting us compared with the phone. However we recognise that not everyone can use the internet and so people can still call for an appointment, again between 8am and 9am. We want to make it fair and ensure both those using the phone and the online form have the same time frame for access.
Our hope was that as more requests were made online, the phone demand would decrease. We anticipated that this would then naturally make it easier for people who cannot get online to get through to us. As yet, this has not been the case. Our phone lines remain as busy and the online requests are steadily increasing. We have received, on the whole, very positive feedback from patients regarding the ease of the online process. We have reports of people being able to access us far easier than they could before. Therefore we do ask, if there is any possibility of you contacting us online, please do so. It will be quicker for you and save our phone lines for those who do not have internet access.
We did trial having the online access open 24-hours a day however the amount of requests we received was well beyond the number of appointments we could offer. We also had safety concerns regarding the nature of requests being made when the practice was not open.
Appointment demand continues to increase and the system is getting very tight. Alongside employing new doctors, we are constantly trying to explore new options. We do now offer appointments on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We pay for these appointments to help meet demand, so they may be offered to you depending on the type of problem you have. We also fund a first contact physiotherapy service. This service offers online exercise plans and well as direct phone or face-to-face consultations. First contact physiotherapy can be accessed through our website on the "Get an Appointment" page or by referral from anyone in the Practice team.
We are very grateful for your continued understanding and we will endeavour to keep adapting any way we can. In order to keep you updated of our practice situation, please see some of the latest appointment figures below. These are all compared with 2019, prior to the pandemic.