Changes to appointments
The practice has recently introduced some changes to the type of appointments we offer. Patients can still ask for an on-the-day telephone consultation with a GP or nurse, but appointments will now be limited to a set number of pre-bookable times. We have made this decision because our GPs were being asked to make between 20 and 30 calls a day, in addition to a full clinic. Whilst we appreciate that changes can be unsettling, the demand for telephone appointments was simply unsustainable. We anticipate that this change will free up the clinicians’ time to offer more routine and urgent face-to-face consultations and will ultimately enhance the service we provide to all our patients.
A message from your GPs
We are working hard to source and recruit new GPs to the surgery, but like many other surgeries across the country, the chronic shortage of doctors is making this process difficult. This means that we are simply not able to offer everybody the appointments they want, when they want. The two GPs working at Eldene at present (alongside their locum colleagues) cannot safely work any longer hours than they are already, so we are also unable to offer the early or late appointments we know would benefit our working patients. We acknowledge that our patient list is growing all the time (it is currently just over 7,800) and understand that patients who have been with us for many years are finding these changes especially disappointing.
The partners and staff would like to thank you all for your understanding, and offer their assurances that we are working hard to improve access to appointments as quickly as possible.
You said.... we listened!
We value the feedback we receive from our patients and are always pleased to listen to your views. Below is an example of the recent feedback we have been given and the actions we have taken to implement your ideas and suggestions. And if you have any ideas or suggestions to improve the practice, please let us know; we'd love to hear from you!
You said : 'We struggle to get through on the phone first thing in the morning or when the phones open in the afternoon':
We did: We have increased the number of staff we have available to answer phones during the busiest times. We will continue to monitor our performance over the coming months.
You said: ‘It is sometimes difficult to get an appointment with a doctor’ and, ‘you couldn’t always get a ‘book on the day’ appointment’.
We did: The national shortage of GPs is making it extremely difficult to recruit but we have recently recruited a Nurse Practitioner to help provide more appointments. We have also reduced the number of telephone calls requested each day by patients, to free up the clinicians’ time to offer more routine and urgent face-to-face consultations.
You said: ‘It’s not always convenient to have to visit the surgery to drop off a repeat prescription – why can’t I ask for my medication over the phone?’.
We did: We cannot accept requests for repeat prescriptions over the phone but we understand that our patients need the process to be quick and convenient, so you can order your medication online (by registering for the service here at the surgery). Alternatively, you can use the new Prescription Ordering Direct (POD) service, which means that ordering your medication is as simple as a phone call from the comfort of your own home!
You said: 'We are often kept waiting a bit too long after our scheduled appointment time'
We did: Our new clinical IT system allows us to actively monitor our waiting times and our reception staff work hard to let patients know whenever a GP is running late. We are also encouraging patients to ask for a double appointment if they know that they may need longer than the usual 10 minute appointment
You said: ‘It would be a good idea to have alcohol hand gel in reception, to help prevent the spread of germs.’
We did: We now provide alcohol gel on the reception desk and by the booking in touch-screen, which is regularly cleaned.
You Said: ‘You should send text messages to remind patients of their appointment dates and times.’
We Did: We have now introduced a text messaging service for our patients because we understand that from time to time people can forget that they have booked an appointment.
You Said: ‘It would be nice to have some music in reception. Also, it would be harder for other people to listen to your conversation with the receptionist.’
We Did: We have recently (March 2018) been given funding to apply for a licence and hope to introduce music into our reception area as soon as possible.