We were saddened to hear the news story of 11th October about GP practice receptionists. It’s a huge risk for everyone if some patients are at risk because they are put off asking for help because of questions asked by the reception team.
Like many practices, we’ve introduced initial screening questions when a patient calls for an appointment. This is to help match the patient to the right care and support from the right person. Our patients tell us how important it is to see their own GP and we try to ensure continuity as much as we can. Patients also tell us though that, at times, when their needs are urgent they do not mind which Clinician they see.
At Croft Hall Medical Practice patients now have access to support from a GP, a Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Pharmacist who can help with many general queries and we are now extending support provided by our ON THE DAY TEAM, which is based at the Chelston Hall Surgery, 56 Abbey Road. This is a new venture for the practice and we would appreciate your feedback.
Modern healthcare is increasingly complicated with a larger population, more complex patients with greater heath needs yet hardly any more doctors – a national problem. Resources are a problem with General Practice receiving only 9% of the NHS budget despite handling 90% of patient contacts but, as documented within the press, there is a national shortfall in doctors (especially GPs) and nurses.
We’ve taken a bold and measured step with our ON THE DAY TEAM. From our practice nurses, healthcare practitioners, phlebotomist to our nurse practitioners, our prescribing pharmacists, our visiting nursing home team; we’ve opened up our practice to a broader range of people all of whom have different skills and areas of expertise. We try to celebrate and utilise the skills that this broad group have and reassure patients that they are in safe hands and, as a practice, we’ve really been able to help patients in a completely different way through employing experts in medicines, in women’s health and children’s health. The Future NHS has changed forever, and for the better, with these allied health professionals.
Our patient advisors, or receptionists, are an important part of the team for patients. They work hard not to block patients and the news will be upsetting to our team members who are fully committed to providing great care. We’ve entrusted them to ask questions when a patient calls to be your expert helper and to book you in with the best person to see at the best time. The questions also help GPs to prioritise those urgent queries that come through on the day. Even on a quiet day, a duty doctor could have a huge number of calls to make ranging from a medication stock query to a cough or cold to an urgent home visit for a palliative care patient. That doctor has to make a judgement on which call to make first and the basic information that is captured by the receptionist really does help them make a critical decision.
At any time a patient can refuse to share information. Our team members are trained to explain gently why the questions are asked and not to force a patient to disclose something they don’t want to. Our reception team are also trained in the importance of data protection. Any information that is shared with us is treated in utmost confidence. We are proud of our team who work hard every day to help the hundreds of callers each day to get booked with the most appropriate health care professional.
We were worried about the report and we wish to reassure patients about why questions are asked. We also want to share that we are proud of every member of our team and the work done to help manage tight resources and still provide excellent care.