With the country emerging from the Pandemic the challenges facing the wider NHS and General Practice have never been greater. Waiting times for many hospital services have climbed and patients presenting with potential cancers have dropped. This is balanced against a workforce that has not stopped working during the pandemic and is at risk of burnout, and many are considering leaving the NHS entirely.
Therefore for the health and wellbeing of our staff, the Practice will be making changes to pivot to more face to face appointments but at the same time keep clinician triage for those truly urgent cases.
With over 23,000 patients, we expect significantly higher demand than your “average” GP surgery and need to ensure that the telephone calls that get put onto clinician triage are those that need to be dealt with urgently (within 4 hours) or on that day. To help offer patients an alternative to an urgent clinician phone call we are offering:
- Online booking for certain appointments. From Thursday 1st July 2021 patients will be able to book online for:
- Blood test appointments
- Smear appointments
- Blood Pressure appointments
- NHS Health checks
- Clinician GP triage (please note, that you will have to leave some details for the reason of the appointment and if the Clinician deems this non-urgent the call may be moved to a more appropriate slot)
Please note; bookings via this method will be audited to ensure that all patients are using this facility fairly. Patients booking excessively or inappropriately via these methods will have their ability to book via these routes revoked.
- Receptionists will now ask more questions for them to correctly identify which of member of our clinical team is best able to help you, and how quickly. We are very fortunate to have a number of highly skilled clinical and non-clinical staff members who can effectively manage many issues. This may include our Clinical Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Dispensary team, Patient Services Co-ordinators or a member of the Nursing team. They may also direct you to more appropriate community services to help you with your problem, including your dentist, local pharmacy, your mental health worker, community nursing team or hospital specialist.
- Patients emailing us with clinical queries or requests to be added to triage will not be accepted. There is an increasingly worrying trend for patients emailing the surgery asking for a call back from a particular clinician that day. There is neither the clinical time nor administrative backroom staff to be able to manage this demand safely. We will therefore not be accepting requests for appointments via this route. Emails will only be forwarded to a clinician where this information has been specifically requested by a clinician such a copy of a letter from the hospital, requests for photographs etc.
The methods which patients can use to access a clinician’s advice are:
- By calling and being added to the clinician telephone triage list for urgent problems
- By calling and making a routine clinician appointment
- Using online booking (see information on online booking – above)
Due to ongoing requirements for social distancing, whilst our reception areas are open, they are only to be used for those with an appointment inside the building. Please do not use our reception areas to try to book an appointment.
What is Telephone Triage?
A telephone triage appointment is a brief, focussed appointment with a duty clinician to determine the nature and urgency of your problem. Our triage clinicians include Doctors, Advanced Nurse Practitioners, and Paramedic Practitioners.
You will be asked for a brief description of your problem, and then asked a few questions. From there, the clinician will decide on one of 3 outcomes:
RED: Your problem requires urgent attention from another service. This may include advice to call 999 or attend A&E for medical emergencies, or to seek advice from a Dentist, Optician, Physiotherapist, Mental Health Team or local Pharmacist.
AMBER: Your problem can be resolved on the telephone by the duty clinician. The clinician will ask a few more questions, and then provide medical advice on investigation and management of your problem or arrange appropriate onward referral.
GREEN: Your problem requires a home visit (only if you are housebound), face to face, or longer telephone appointment. The clinician will arrange this for you. You may need to be flexible about the time.
Please be aware that the Duty Clinician may have large numbers of urgent calls waiting, so it is important to have a clear idea in your mind of the reasons for your call, and share this with the Receptionist, so we can prioritise the most urgent calls.
We ask that any patient who is experiencing any of the following symptoms does not call the Practice to be added to the Duty Clinician’s triage:
- Dental problems: If you do not have a dentist please contact 111 to access the urgent dental service
- Minor illness including hay fever, mild sunburn, non-infected insect bites, nits etc. These can all be managed by the community pharmacists of which there are several within Salisbury.
- Eye issues: Please access the COVID Urgent Eye Service (CUES) by contacting your local optician. To view a list of these opticians, please click here (link will open in a new window)
- Emergency medical problems requiring immediate medical assistance. General practice is not an emergency service and if your problem is severe, then 999 is your first port of call.
- If you feel that your problem is urgent and you are unable to get through to the surgery then please contact 111 and they can contact the surgery on your behalf if required.
- If you are under the care of the Community Team including but not exclusive to nursing, palliative care, podiatry, neurological specialist, diabetic nurse specialist, cardiac nursing etc then please continue to try to contact them first. We have no easier access to them then you do and they are as equally busy which is why there may be a delay in getting back to you.
- Your hospital specialist will have a supportive administrative team around them. If you have any questions regarding your next appointment, changes to medications/treatment or planned follow up then please contact a member of their team or “Customer Care” at the hospital looking after you.
Whilst we continue to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape after the pandemic we are mindful that whilst COVID-19 numbers are falling, patients are still becoming unwell with COVID. With this in mind if you have:
- A new, continuous cough
- High temperature
- Loss a taste or smell
Then please book a COVID test (online or by calling 119) and begin isolating.
If you become unwell requiring non-emergency medical attention during your isolation period, you should still contact the Practice. However, you must inform us that you are isolating so that, if needed, we can arrange for you to be seen in our “Hot Site” to reduce the risk of you transmitting the virus to our other patients.
As a practice we are committed to providing safe, high quality medical care. We appreciate the above strategies may feel that we are limiting access to our services. We hope that you can see that your surgery is very much still open and that we are trying to balance the needs of our patients with the welfare of our staff after what has been one of the hardest years the NHS has faced.
Published: Jun 30, 2021