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Doctor First Appointment System

Commencing Monday 1st April 2019

What are we changing?

We are changing our appointment system to a Doctor First Appointment System. This means patients requesting a GP appointment will be assessed by Doctor by telephone.We have been trialing some appointments as Doctor First since August 2018 and the general feedback from patients has been positive as they can gain advice from the Doctor without having to have a face to face appointment.The Patient Advisors (formally known as Receptionists) will no longer be able to make any pre bookable appointments requested by patients as these will be done by the GP once you have spoken to them. This ensures that if you do require an appointment that you are seen in an appropriate timescale and we can adapt appointment times should you require longer with the Doctor.

You will need to contact the surgery on a morning before 10am and ask the Patient Advisors for a call back from the Doctor. They will then take your name, date of birth and address and the most appropriate number to call you back on. They will then ask for a brief description of the health issue you are calling for. All information you give our Patient Advisors is strictly confidential, but we understand not all patients would wish to discuss their health concerns with Patient Advisors. The reason we ask for a brief description is to help assist the Doctor in identifying any calls which may need priority – such as a child with a fever and a non-fading rash on glass test which could indicate meningitis as opposed to a healthy adult with a common cold. If the Doctor indicates that you need to be seen or reviewed, they will offer you an appropriate appointment.

If you call the practice after 10am a Doctor will only call you back if you have an urgent medical problem that cannot wait until the next working day or that can’t be seen at another alternative service.

The Doctor will only try to contact you once so please ensure that you have your phone with you at all times. The number may show as private or withheld.

Why are we changing?

The Practice is currently going through some changes. Dr Cormack is leaving the Surgery in June 2019 and therefore we are no longer hosting a GP registrar which results in our capacity being compromised. This means as a Practice to be able to maintain the number of appointments we offer to patients we need to be more proactive in how we deliver our appointments. By changing our system we are hoping to also accommodate the increase of patients requesting to be seen by a Doctor.

BMA guidance suggests that Practices should be offering 72 GP appointments (these can be face to face or telephone consultations) per 1,000 patients. The National average currently is 56 GP appointments per 1,000 patients. This means our Practice; in accordance with BMA guidance should be offering 367 appointments per week or by running in line with the national average, 286 appointments per week.

As you will be able to see from the below appointment statistics (that are based on average and not including annual leave, sick leave or other types of leave), the practice has managed to increase capacity since implementing the new system to meet the BMA’s guidance.

July 2018 (Drop in):

183 GP appointments

30 GP appointments, where patients were seen as “extra or acutely” (average per week)

79 Registrar appointments

Total: 292 appointments per week

October 2018 (Current system):

340 GP appointments

36 Registrar appointments

Total: 376 appointments per week

April 2019 (Doctor First Model):

240 GP telephone appointments with 3 GP's covering morning session

134 Face to Face booked by Doctor with 2 GP’s covering afternoon session

Total: 374 appointments per week

What are the benefits of changing?

  • Most patients do not need to be seen by a Doctor as their health issue could be dealt with over the telephone which can be more convenient for patients

  • By introducing the Doctor First Appointment System this give the Doctors more time to see the patients that need a face to face appointment and spend longer with them if needed. This helps appointments to run to time and means you’re more likely to be seen on time.

  • It can also mean the Doctors can send you for any tests or investigations before your appointment, if you require any.

  • Patients do not have to wait in surgery for appointments meaning you can continue your day as planned

  • You are seen when it is appropriate

  • The Practice is able to maintain our capacity despite staff changes and not currently hosting a GP Registrar.

  • The Patient Advisors can re direct you to another alternative person or service (if necessary) such as seeing a Nurse, booking an appointment with a Physiotherapist, referring you to Social Prescribing, advising you to seek advice from your local pharmacy, book you an appointment with the Practice Pharmacist, advise you to attend another appropriate service such as the minor injury unit, A&E, 999, 111 or walk in centre.

Other Information:

We understand that this means that the phone lines from 8:30am-10am are going to be extremely busy and we have arranged the reception team to be answering calls continuously until 10am. The telephone lines will hold up to 10 calls then you will hear the engaged tone. We can only persuade you to keep trying. We could implement a telephone queuing system which would inform you of the position you are in the queue, but this is a high charge service which is not a plausible option for our patient population.

Requests for triage will finish at 10am or when the lists are full – whichever occurs first.

If you require an interpreter for your appointments, the practice will accommodate these requests.

If you are a worker and categorically cannot make or take phone calls the practice will try and accommodate these requests.

Continuation sick notes must be requested before 10am. If you contact the surgery after this time you will be asked to call the next working day. Please note, Doctors cannot issue sick notes for future dates, they can only issue them from the date they expire. However, Doctors can back date sick notes.

Home Visits must be requested before 10am and are only available for housebound, vulnerable, severely ill or end of life patients.

The Patient Advisors will not be able to make any pre-bookable appointments via patient requests. The Patients Advisors can only make appointments that have been requested from the GP (such as contacting patients regarding test results or patients needing a medication review). The GP will state on this whether it is urgent or routine for which the Patient Advisors can accommodate the request accordingly.

The Patient Advisors have been trained in recognizing medical symptoms that require attention that needs to be seen elsewhere (urgent or otherwise). These can include: chest pain, breathlessness, severe bleeding, overdose, severe pain, broken bones and sprains, trauma and collapse. If the Patient Advisors advise you to attend or contact another service you must do so. This is for your own health and not because the Patient Advisors are turning you away but because we don’t have the correct equipment in the surgery and the Doctors will only advise you of the same.

Alternatively, if you are registered for our online services appointments are bookable by Clicking Here and logging in.
If you wish to enquire about this service please ask at reception.

Receptionists are available 8.15 - 12:30 and 1:30 - 6.00 each day except for Thursdays when they are available until 12.00.

Patients are reminded that it is their responsibility to keep appointments. Failure to notify the practice of cancellations may prevent another patient using the appointment. The surgery operates a DNA policy and may request removal from the practice list for recurrent DNAs.

Any patients displaying violent or abusive behaviour to staff, other patients or doctors are likely to be asked to leave the practice list.

Our Location

S5 8GS

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Your Doctors Surgery in Sheffield

Located in a central location with ample parking.

Location & Contact

The Health Care Surgery
63 Palgrave Road
S5 8GS
Tel: 0114 234 4729
Fax: 0114 231 4591

S5 8GS
Opening Hours

Monday: 08.30 – 18.00
Tuesday: 08.30 – 18.00
Wednesday: 08.30 – 18.00
Thursday: 08.30 – 16.00
Friday: 08.30 – 18.00