Open Letter To Our Patients

We are really aware and sorry that it is so hard to get appointments at present. We are aiming to improve this in the next few weeks by introducing a new appointment system.

Why?

Before the Covid crisis we used to offer advance/routine appointments and on the day/urgent appointments. The waiting time could be 2-4 weeks at times for a routine appointment.

Due to the Covid situation we had to move overnight to a telephone first system, dealing with all requests on the day and seeing people safely and appropriately, as needed, but dealing with things by phone or video where we could.

We were able to deal with everything on the day because people understood the Covid situation and were staying away to a large extent when it came to non-urgent problems.

We are now back in a ‘business as usual’ situation. You are needing us and calling in large numbers and we can no longer deal with everything on the same day. There are just too many calls for the capacity that we are able to provide via our clinical team.

So we need a book ahead facility/waiting list for non-urgent problems.

We have decided to trial a new system to help this.

How?

If you need to contact/see us about a routine/non-emergency problem, we would ask you to complete an online form called ‘e-consult’ on our website to let us know what you would like us to do and what the issue is. We will then promptly review this and get back to you with a reply within 3-5 days. This is very likely to be with a face to face appointment but if we can help without the need for you to come in, then this may be possible too. The aim is not to say ‘no you can’t be seen’. It is just to give us more information upfront.

If you are not happy or not able to do an electronic form then that is fine. Our receptionists will take all your details and send this to your GP, but we would prefer you to do this electronically to allow our reception team to focus on those who really cannot manage this and enable our phone to be free for emergency problems.

Benefits

The benefits of this system are largely:

1. Continuity and choice…your usual GP or the GP you wish, or prefer to see will get your message rather than it going to any one of our GPs who may not know you so well.

2. Secondly, if your problem is serious or immediate we can prioritise you and avoid the risk of being on a waiting list for more than a week or two for a problem that cannot wait. We think this is a big advantage.

3. It can be more efficient. For example, if you need some tests or x-rays before you come to see us, we can arrange these first and when we see you, everything can be discussed and dealt with in one visit rather than you needing to come back for tests and then a review at a later date.

It is never going to be perfect and we know some of you will not naturally feel comfortable with this and we apologise, but please bear with us and trial it. We simply have to do something because the current situation is untenable for everyone, with us running out of appointments by midday and having to ask you to call again the next day. We really do not want to offer this low level of service. This is a trial system. We will evaluate this system over the next three months to see if this improves the situation for our patients and staff. Your feedback, with constructive comments, will be valued via the PPG.

Just to be clear, for urgent/emergency problems, e.g. if you are in pain, having breathing problems or have an unwell child or any problem you really feel needs our attention the same day, these will be dealt with just as we always have done by a phone call to our reception and a same day appointment or a prompt call back from our duty doctor.

Thank you for bearing with us.

With very best wishes from the Partners and whole team at Winchcombe Medical Centre.