Patient Services and Information Gateway

Patient Services and Information Gateway

What is The Cranborne Practice Patients Services & Information Gateway?

  • A service to improve accessibility of GP services, reduce waiting times and supporting patient needs, creating opportunities to access support on the day of need.
  • Providing a different patient-centric service, as the current situation is proving challenging and we believe our patients have been understanding, we cannot continue without changes in our working practices.
  • Introduced to support and assist our team of GPs Nurses, HCA’s and Medical Receptionist to provide our patients with a timelier service
  • To promote and provide communication access to services via a range of channels.

What is changing?

We are changing how patients can book GP appointments.  We are introducing a service to improve the accessibility of GP services, reduce waiting times and support patient needs, creating opportunities to access help at the time of need.

From Monday 6th June, there will be no forward bookings taken for GP appointments.  GP appointment bookings will only be able to be made by telephone or online using a Systmonline account or through the NHS app or Airmid App.  In person bookings may also be made at our Lake Road Surgery branch.

This means that anyone who requests a GP consultation will receive one the SAME DAY as the request. 

  • At the start of each day (by 8 a.m.) all appointment slots will be released to be booked by our patients
  • These can be booked online using a Systmonline account, or through the NHS app or Airmid App
  • At 8 a.m. our telephone lines will be open and able to receive calls from our patients 
  • On receipt of a call, you will be offered a choice of either a face-to-face appointment with the GP or a time to receive a telephone call from a GP.  The timeslot will depend on the GPs daily schedule
  • You can also walk into the Lake Road surgery and speak to one of our medical receptionists
  • By the end of the day, all patients who have requested to speak with a GP on that day, will have done so either by a face-to-face appointment or by telephone
  • The next day the process is repeated with all free and available slots being released for booking that morning
  • This means that if you need to see or speak with a GP during the day, you will be able to do so.

The online GP Appointment request form on our website is no longer be available, nor will email requests to book appointments be accepted. 

There is no change to other appointment booking types.  Appointment arrangements to see a Nurse, Health Care Assistant or for vaccinations remain unchanged.

Why now?

The Cranborne Practice provides support to over 11,800 patients.  There are 9 GPs (a mixture of part-time and full-time), 1 advanced Pharmacist, 7  nurses, 6 Health Care Assistants, 12 medical receptionists and 5 administrators and secretaries.

On an average week, the Practice will

  • receive over 1,900 phone calls
  • issue 1,300 repeat prescriptions
  • undertake over 1,400 telephone consultations
  • see over 900 people in person

However, while historically we were able to meet the daily demands to see a GP, currently a patient can wait up to 2 weeks to see a GP.  Lockdown and the changes in the way we had to operate during the pandemic has caused a build up in demand which we have been working hard to address.

We are, in effect, resetting the system so that we can again deal with our patients concerns on the day. 

How will it affect me?

  • With the new system you will get access to a GP on the SAME DAY as your request
  • Appointments slots will be released daily and will be available to book online, by phoning the surgery or in person at our Lake Road Surgery branch
  • This means that you can access medical support when you need it and not have to wait to discuss your concerns with a GP
  • Initially, while the system beds in, there may be an additional wait time to get through if phoning to request an appointment via the telephone; however, there are several other ways in which you can secure an appointment e.g., online
  • We ask that our patients work with us whilst we make the changes, and whilst we have taken steps to ensure the disruption is minimal, you may experience an increased delay in us answering the phones in the initial week.

It is a different approach to previous arrangements, but one that we firmly believe will improve the level of access to services for our patients.

To address any concerns you may have

Here some questions that you may have about the new system and our answers:

Q. Is this the end of the family GP service where a person gets to see their own GP who understand them, their history and where a patient has confidence in the ability to talk to someone, they feel they know?

A. Definitely not!  In fact, we want all patients to identify a GP as “their” GP so we can, where possible, ensure a patient sees the same GP on an ongoing basis. This is our objective, and we will do all we can within the time and resources available to deliver it.  It is not the end of face-to-face appointments either. We are still providing these as we have done so throughout the recent pandemic.

Q. If I ring up in the morning, will I be guaranteed to see a GP that day?  Or will I get to speak to someone who can help and if need be, issue a prescription?

A. You will be guaranteed to be seen/spoken to by a GP based on YOUR choice and GP availability on the day.  This is what try to do currently, but we have to carry out pre booked appointments too, which can impact responsiveness!  Prescriptions are always actioned/dealt with on the day requested.

Q.  You will be inundated with calls!  Surely if you are releasing all the appointments in the morning, during the first hour of the day you will be inundated with telephone calls.  Will I be spending a long time on the phone waiting for my call to be answered?

A. We are encouraging our patients where possible to help us and use other alternatives to calls e.g. the many online options we offer.  We are already inundated by phone calls every day and are often faced with handling between 300 to 400 calls per day with many patients requesting an urgent appointment.

Q. Will I be stuck in an even longer telephone queue?  If I have an urgent need, and there are 10 people in the queue before me, how will I get a face-to-face appointment with a GP that day, especially if you’ve already filled all the slots?

A. We recognise this may be an area of concern, and we have worked hard to have this covered. We already have a limitless list for our on duty GPs.  Demand is already extremely high and is not helped by patients having to wait up to 2 weeks for an appointment.  We believe that by dealing with the enquiries on the day we can reduce the waiting time. Sometimes the phones will get busy, but the trade-off is that you know that you will get to see a GP on that day.

Q. I want to feel comfortable talking to a specific GP.  I do not feel confident talking to a GP I don’t know.  I want to feel comfortable talking to a specific GP, so how will I know what day they are working, when they are working and what happens if there slot are already filled by the time I get through?  I also know that some GP’s are specialists, e.g. dermatology. How can I see a specialist GP?

A. We could publish rotas, but we are inclined not to do so as we know that there are some frequently requested GP’s which will be busier than others.  Events such as holidays or annual leave will also affect the rotas of when GPs are available. You will be directed to your usual GP if they are available.  If your need is to be seen more urgently than their availability allows, you will be offered an appointment with a GP who has more immediate capacity.  Should you wish to wait to see a specific GP, we can advise what day a specific GP will be working and when you can call back.

Q. What about follow up appointments?  If a GP wants to see me for a follow up appointment in a few days' time, how it that going to work?  Do I need to go through the whole system again? Can't a follow-up just be booked?

A. No, but don't worry:  the GP will follow up with a text message to you or a call back initiated by themselves.

Q. What if the surgery is closed?  If a GP phones a patient after 6.30 pm and thinks they should been seen, how will that work as the surgery will be closed by then?

A. If a patient needs to be seen same day, be assured that the Doctor will deal with the issue. If they are unable to see the patient, and it is urgent, they will refer them to the "out of hours" service (NHS111) or ask them to attend A & E.

Q. Have GP hours increased? Has the number of GP hours (excluding locum hours) gone up pro rata in line with the increase in number of patients?  Have the number of reception staff increased?

A. We have increased our GP hours in advance of this system.  Our medical reception team will not be increasing as we are limited to space and budgets.  Our view is that we would prefer to put our funds into providing more GP capacity who can deal with concerns from our patients.

Q. What about those who can't go online and rely on phones to make an appointment?  I have access to the Internet, so if I log on before 8 and book an appointment, surely this means there are less slots available for people who do not have access to the Internet and who are required to phone.  Does this not discriminate against the elderly people who rely on phone to make appointments?

A.  We will be requesting that calls are logged for urgent items before 11am and 2pm.  We will be using the phone just as much as other methods.  At times there may be a wait on the phone, but we are of the view that for the best patient care it is better to wait on the phone and speak with a GP that day as opposed to a quicker phone response and a two week wait to see a GP.

Q. What if it's urgent?  How will you decide that my need is urgent?  Will you take my word for it?

A. Whether considered urgent or routine – you will be given a same day appointment.

Q.  What if no slots are available?  Are you sure that you have the capacity to handle all the requests for GP appointments on a day-to-day basis.  What happens if there is oversubscription to the slots available?

A. The duty doctor as now, could see 30 or 70 patients in a day.  This way, only the GPs on the day would be sharing the workload, rather than it resting on two or three GP’s per day.

Q.  Who will decide whether I am referred to a GP? Who will decide whether I am referred to a GP, Nurse, Health Care Assistant or Pharmacist? 
What happens if I disagree? How can I get to see who I want to see?

A. If a patient requests a GP consultation, we would rarely request that a patient sees an allied health care professional.  However, for the fairness to all patients, if we identify a consistent inappropriate use of GP time and the GP has requested a follow up with another of our qualified healthcare team, we will make a note of this going forward and will explain our decision to the patients.

Q. I work during the day and my partner works nights.  What will the new system mean we need to do?  I work and only get one day off a week, but I want to see a GP because I’m concerned about a medical issue that is developing. Do I have to keep ringing up every morning on my day off to find a slot? It could be some time before my next day off which will further delay my being seen.

A.  Whenever you want to be seen you will be! At your choice you may prefer a telephone consultation.  It makes no difference to us when your day off is.  When you call us on day “x” we will book you for that day. You won't be delayed in getting access to a GP. You will be attended to on the day of your call.

Q. What if I look after someone and can't call until after 10am?  I look after an elderly relative but cannot get to see her until after I've taken the kids to school.  When I can make a call on her behalf, surely by that time all the daily slots will be filled. I am not able to see her every day and make the call every day until a slot becomes available

A. Not all appointment slots will be taken. Based on our analysis and restricted system we are confident that you will still be able to access GP services on that day.

Q. Can I walk in?  Can I still walk in and make an appointment?  Will I have to sit and wait until a slot becomes available?

A. You can book in person at our Lake Road Surgery branch where our trained medical receptionists are based.  However, we cannot guarantee the appointment will be at a time which makes it appropriate time to "sit and wait” but not all appointments need to be face to face. So, if you wish you may wish to receive a telephone appointment.  However, we sometimes experience patients queueing outside our doors to make an appointment in person.  We ask patients to book online or persevere on the phone. This system will give them a same day allocated slot no matter which channel is used to contact us. 

Q. Will you call me back?  Is it possible that there is a call back list if the daily slots are oversubscribed or if someone doesn't turn up for an appointment  resulting in a slot becoming available?

A. When you contact us, you will be given a slot.  So, this situation will not arise.

Q. What if I need to organise transport? I need to organise a taxi to get me to the surgery.  If I must book up on the day, it is less easy for me to organise a taxi at such short notice.  I rely on buses to get me to the surgery; it will be difficult for me to coordinate my time of appointment with the bus timetable.  I rely on a friend or relative to take me to the surgery and accompany me, they may not be available on the day that I call as they may be working or have other commitments.

A. We will endeavour to book it to fit with transport needs.  If you advise us of your transportation constraints, we will update our records and can take that into account when booking your appointment.

Q. Is this a pilot project?  Is this a pilot to test new system or is this it? What will you do if you find that the new system is not working for patients, and they are unable to get health care support on the day they call or are finding it difficult to make calls to the surgery?

A. We are moving to this system, and it will take patience and flexibility as it rolls out.  We will pick up on any areas of concern and specific problems as they arise. We have tried to take all our patients needs into account. 

Q. Won't the number of phone calls to the surgery make it worse?  One of the problems I’ve experienced in the past is making calls to the surgery, often held in queues and long wait times.  Surely this will only make matters worse?

A. We have 5 reception staff handling our lines into the surgery.  They are working flat out and take time to listen and understand each caller needs.  With this new system as it beds in there may be a longer telephone wait times, BUT you will get a GP appointment that day. Our view is that it is better to wait on the phone for a same day appointment than wait 2 weeks to see a GP.

Q. Is the new system fair?  Surely the is a case of whoever gets in first gets the best choices? That does not seem fair!

A. This will not be the case with the new system.  Unfortunately, it is the case at the moment!  Everybody eventually gets seen as often routine appointments when offered more than a week away or they are put on triage for the day.  With the new system, everyone who contacts us on the day requesting a GP appointment will get one. 

Q.  What is the cut off time to book appointments the same day?  

A.  Ideally 11am for morning and 2pm for afternoon.  This would help us manage the demand.

Q. What happens if I am dissatisfied with the new service?  Who can I report it to? How can I feedback any issues?

A. Direct to the Practice Manager as per present guidance. We want to work with our patients to ensure this system works.  There may be a few issues when we start the new system and we trust that we can work with our patients to improve the service.  Be assured we are doing all we can to meet the best interests of our patients. 

These FAQs were last updated 26th May 2022.

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