From Wednesday 5th July, our appointment system is changing

Posted by: jackhughes - Posted on:

From Wednesday 5th July, our appointment system is changing

How does our current appointment system work?

Our practice offers a number of GP appointments that can be booked in advance, but most of our GP appointments are saved for “on-the-day”. This means that if we have no more pre-bookable appointments to offer, a patient’s only option is to call at 8:30am to try to get an on-the-day appointment. Once all of the on-the-day appointments are gone, you would need to call again the following morning to try for an on-the-day appointment the next day. We understand this system isn’t perfect – no GP appointment system is – and we are constantly making adjustments in an attempt to improve this system and improve patient access.

Why are we making changes to our appointment system?

The 2023/34 GP Contract states “Offer of assessment will be equitable for all modes of access: To ensure consistency in the access that patients can expect, the GP contract will be updated to make clear that patients should be offered an assessment of need, or signposted to an appropriate service, at first contact with the practice.”

What this means is GP practices can no longer ask patients to call again the following morning to try to get an appointment. While this is intended to be a positive change for patients, in order to facilitate such a change we will need to consider how best to utilise the finite number of appointments we have to offer. This is something GP practices all around the country are having to look at.

What changes are we making to the appointment system?

As you can hopefully appreciate, on most days we have more patients asking for GP appointments than we have GP appointments to offer. The only way we can feasibly offer an “assessment of need” to every patient that makes contact with the practice, is to implement a triaging system, whereby a GP will conduct a preliminary assessment of each patient in order to determine the urgency of their need for treatment and the nature of treatment required.

How will this actually work in practice?

From Wednesday 5th July, we will be releasing a new way for patients to contact the surgery online, called AccuRx Patient Triage. This will allow patients to send us an online request, explaining why they need an appointment. This request will then be reviewed by a GP and, if an appointment is needed, one will be offered to the patient within an appropriate time-frame.

From the 26th June we will have a transition period. We will still have on-the-day appointments, as we do now, but when these have all gone, patients will be encouraged to go online and complete an AccuRx Triage Request. These patients will then be triaged by a GP and offered an appointment if needed.

From Wednesday 5th JulyALL our GP appointments will be triaged before being booked. That means that rather than calling the practice to make an appointment with a GP, you can simply go online and complete an AccuRx Triage Request. Patients who are unable to go online to do this themselves will have the option of our reception team completing a request on their behalf. In this way, all patients, whether going online, calling reception, or attending the practice in person, will have their request dealt with in the same way. There will no longer be any advantage to calling at 8:30am, or queueing outside the practice before we open. You can contact the surgery at any time during opening hours and have the peace of mind that your request will be reviewed by a GP and the appropriate action will be taken.

So anyone who sends an AccuRx Triage Request will be given an appointment?

No – this would be no more feasible than giving an appointment to every single patient who asks for one now. We have a finite number of appointments, and this new appointment system will ensure that these appointments are given to the patients that really need to see or speak to a GP. Some patients may be sign-posted to other services that are better suited to their needs, and some patients may be given advice on self-care. We may be able to deal with some patients’ requests without an appointment at all.

In conclusion: We appreciate that this is going to be a big change for patients; it’s also going to be a big change for the staff at Dr Murray and Partners. While we are adjusting to this new system, we would like to ask everyone to please be patient with our reception staff. Calls may take a little bit longer to begin with, so we encourage anyone who is able to go online to complete an AccuRx Request for themselves to please do so. You can also complete requests on behalf of someone else, such as a child, or someone you care for. Cooperating in this way will free up the phone lines for patients who simply cannot get online to do this themselves.