Patient Announcement (March 23)
In January 2023 we introduced the Accurx Triage service, as contracted by NHS England and commissioned by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough ICS. Accurx Triage allows patients quick access to medical advice without having to call the surgery. Whilst the majority of patients have used this service and shared positive feedback, we have in recent weeks experienced a number of patients query why the online triage system is closed once we have filled all of our available appointments and are at capacity.
We have listened to patients who have raised concerns directly with us, we have spoken to our PPG about the challenges we are experiencing with regards to increasing patient need in comparison to staffing resource available, and we have sought advice from surgeries in the Cambridgeshire area who use the same online triage system. Having reviewed patient concerns raised regarding our current online system the Partners and Management team have agreed to make changes as to how our patients access us.
From the 1st April 2023 the Accurx online Triage system will be for patient admin and routine clinical needs only. Patients who have clinically urgent needs will need to call the surgery where you will be added to a triage list and our Duty Doctor will assess your needs and respond within 24 hours. We would like to remind patients that if they are experiencing life threatening symptoms, please dial 999. When calling to discuss an urgent clinical need, our Reception Team will require information regarding the reasons you are calling, including symptoms, durations of symptoms, and self-care utilised to help the Duty Doctor respond to your request. Please be aware that waiting times on the phone are likely to increase as a result of this change. Our Reception team will be working hard to respond to patients calls as quickly as they can, whist taking detailed notes as to the clinical needs so that the Duty Doctor can triage appropriately. Please be patient with our team and help them to help you by providing as much information as possible in a timely manner so they can move on to the next caller.
Patients wanting clinical support for routine clinical needs are to continue to utilise the online Accurx Triage system. Your requests will be triaged by our Duty Doctors and you will be signposted to the most appropriate clinical provide or given an appointment with one of our Enhanced Access clinics or at Firs House. If you call the surgery with a non-urgent clinical need, you will be supported by Reception to complete an online form and our clinical team will triage your request. The online system will remain open to admin and routine medical requests between 08:00-18:00hrs Monday to Friday. We will respond to all routine requests within 1 calendar week. Please be aware that we do anticipate longer waiting times for routine appointments so if you have a routine medical need, submit your request online at the earliest convenience to ensure there are no delays in your clinical care.
The team at Firs House Surgery will continue to work hard within the safe working guidelines outlined by The British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners and utilising the staffing and building capacity we have available. When we as a practice have reached capacity and no longer have any appointments to offer, we will continue to signpost you to the most appropriate clinical service for your needs, whether that be your local Pharmacist, emergency Opticians, the Minor Injuries Unit, or NHS111 who can direct your enquiry to an appropriate service or appointment.
DR EMMA BALDWIN – RETIREMENT
Firs House Medical Partnership would like to announce the retirement of Dr Emma Baldwin at the end of March 2023. Dr Baldwin has been a Partner at Firs House Medical Partnership since 1997 and will be remembered for her unconditional dedication, hard work and commitment to the patients of Histon and Cottenham. We hope you join us in wishing her the very best in her future ventures.
DR BEN CURTIS - NEW GP PARTNER
We are also very pleased to announce that Dr Curtis will be joining Firs House Medical Partnership as a new Partner in July 2023. We hope you join us in welcoming Dr Curtis to Firs House and Telegraph Street Surgeries.
New Patient Triage System
In early 2020 NHS England advised the implementation of a total triage system for all appointments. This system was encouraged to reduce the number of covid contacts, but also because the number of pre-booked appointments meant that we no longer had the capacity to safely manage the number of urgent appointments required each day which increased dramatically over the pandemic. Since the pandemic, patient demand has continued to increase to the point we are now seeing over double the amount of patients, and they are having more appointments more regularly.
We have listened to patient feedback over the last two years and have tried multiple ways to improve the appointment booking system. We agree with your feedback that it is no longer sustainable to use the telephone appointment booking system due to the level of demand we are experiencing. For this reason, we are taking on board your requests and changing how patients can access our clinical staff at Firs House Surgery and Telegraph Street Surgery, and it will no longer be via telephone.
We will now ask that patients fill in the short form on our website for all appointments and other requests. These forms are looked at by a GP, who will then decide on the appropriate next step. This could be a phone call or a face to face appointment with a GP, pharmacist, minor illness nurse, practice nurse or first contact physiotherapist. You will be notified of the outcome by text message or phone call within a few hours of your message.
If the query is either very simple, or something that we are not the most appropriate service for, then you may receive a text message signposting you to another service such as a dentist, minor injuries service or minor eye conditions service, or with a link to the appropriate medical advice online.
From 2nd January 2023 Accurx Triage will be the only way to submit medical & admin queries - https://florey.accurx.com/p/D81028
Feedback from GP Surgeries across England with regards to online triage systems has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to offering you, our patients, an accessible method to contact us in a way that is convenient for you and that recognises your feedback and requests for us to modernise our services.
For a multitude of reasons, primary care is under a lot of pressure, and unfortunately, we do not anticipate this will change for the foreseeable future. We believe that patient triage is the only way that we can sustain a safe and accessible service for all of our patients based on clinical need and to ensure that there is still a service available to our local community in the future.
What if I do not have access to the internet or struggle to complete forms?
We recognise that there will be patients for whom use of the internet is challenging and for those patients, the receptionist will fill in the form over the phone during a discussion with the patient, and this will then be triaged in the same way by the duty doctor. It is for this reason that patients are required to provide the Receptionist with information as to why they are requesting clinical support.
Why do I need to complete a form or answer the questions the reception team ask me?
We will no be longer be able to submit a request to the triaging clinician without some basic information as to why you are calling. This will ensure that appointments are allocated based on clinical risk and need.
The clinicians who look at all the information submitted can provide you with the appointment or advice you need with the right person in the right time period. Firs House Surgery now has a number of additional practitioners working alongside the GP’s. These include First Contact Physiotherapists and a Clinical Pharmacist. It may be more appropriate for you to see or speak to them.
Please rest assured that all surgery staff abide by confidentiality rules and strict surgery policies regarding data handling.
Can reception make me an appointment instead?
From now on, whether you visit in person or contact them by phone, they will no longer be booking you an appointment. They will help you complete the form for medical query if you struggle to do it yourself.
Will I get an appointment quicker if I speak to reception instead?
As per the previous answers, the reception team will no longer be making routine GP appointments with patients directly. All methods of completing the triage forms, either online, in person or over the phone and these will be assessed equally.
If you contact the surgery and say you want an urgent appointment what happens next as you will no longer be making appointments?
We will continue to have a duty doctor every day to deal with urgent clinical requests. There will be an option of booking urgent appointments with the duty doctor on the day, but if not medically urgent, the doctor will ask the patient to fill in the triage form & attend to your query within given turnaround time. The triage tool will list the types of emergencies that will need you to attend A&E before you submit the medical query so to avoid delay.
How long will it take to fill in the form?
For medical queries if will take 5-7 minutes. For administrative or simple issues it is shorter
- Examples of admin issues are – to ask about recent tests, to get a repeat prescription, to ask about a fit (sick) note.
- Examples of simple issues are – change of contact details such as a mobile number
How long will it take to hear from the practice?
For all medical issues the practice will get back in touch within 2 working days after you submitted your query, but much quicker in urgent cases.
When the surgery contacts you it will either be by text, email or by a phone call. You may be offered either an appointment, advice, or help direct and arrange your care from appropriate healthcare services in the community that we work with, such as a social prescriber, pharmacist, nurse etc.
Will I have to fill in the same questionnaire every time I need an appointment?
For each new contact you will be asked to fill in an online questionnaire. We are, however, making changes to the way follow up appointments are arranged. Currently clinicians will often ask patients to speak to reception to book subsequent appointments for relevant investigations such as blood tests and then, following that, book a follow up appointment with the GP or other clinician. Instead we aim to be booking these for you during your first contact avoiding the need for you to contact the surgery again just to make the appointments we have already agreed.
Will the patient still have a choice of which doctor they see?
There is an option to specify which doctor the patient would like to see. We will try to meet this request, doctor’s availability permitting. We will also ask the patient if they are happy to wait for the consultation with the requested GP, but this may mean that the patient will have to wait longer than 2 days for their query to be dealt with.
What if the time/day of the appointment doesn’t work for me?
There is a section on the form where you can write down the times that you aren’t available, which our team can avoid when getting in touch with you.
Will my request be saved to my record?
Any request you submit about a medical issue will be saved to your record so that whoever calls you or sees you about your problem has your information to hand. If you send us a question about an administrative issue we will only save this to your record if we think it would be helpful to do so (or if you ask us to).