Why am I kept waiting after my appointment is due?
GP's generally work on an appointment system based on standard appointment lengths that may be 10 or 15 minutes. For complex or multiple problems patients are sometimes booked double or even triple appointments. Some patients can be seen in 5 minutes, some may need 50 minutes.
The problem the practice faces is that we do not know what is going to walk through the door. GP's then face the dilemma, do I help and support the patient in front of me or do I ask them to come back? If the patient has come in with a shopping list of unrelated problems they are usually asked to prioritise what they feel is the most important and to make other appointments for the other problems.
GP's give the time needed to the patients who need it within an arbitrary appointment structure. Sometimes they need to admit sick patients to hospital, to give emergency treatment (a child bought in with meningitis) or simply give their time to a patient in crisis; all of these may cause them to run late and this inconveniences all patients with an appointment later on in that session. There are many situations when we simply cannot ask a patient to come back.
A recent publication written for patients titled “How to get the best from your GP appointment” states:
“Don’t be put off by a GP who runs late – they may be spending needed time with patients. One day you may appreciate them running late for you.”
Why can’t I see my preferred GP?
Continuity for any problem is desirable for GP's and in 2014 we introduced continuity appointments specifically to try and get patients back in front of the GP who they last saw. However, GP's may be absent from the practice due to attending ongoing medical updates, being away on holiday or commitments to other areas of the health service such as Chippenham Hospital. We do try and give you appointments with the GP who knows you best.
Why can’t I see any GP about my test results?
We always ask patients to discuss test results with the GP who ordered them for two reasons:
- That GP knows and understands why the tests were ordered and has a medico legal responsibility for those test results.
- That GP knows what the plan is depending upon the test results
You should not feel anxious if you have to wait for an appointment to discuss your results. If the GP was at all concerned that a delay would cause harm, you would be given an early appointment.
There are not enough appointments!
Over the last 12 months we have added an additional GP and increased the number of GP sessions by almost a whole week. Despite this the routine capacity sometimes cannot meet the demand.
This problem is compounded by the increase demand and expectation to be seen quickly.
Historically practices have had an open book allowing appointments to be booked for weeks in advance. More recently practices have held back (embargoed) appointments so that they are available at shorter notice. Feedback from our patients is that they expect appointments to be available within 3 days, therefore the bulk of our appointments are held back and released 3 days in advance.
Sometimes patients may be offered the next routine appointment and this may be 3 weeks ahead; this may not be acceptable. With the system we have, every day has more appointments released.
Over a 4 week period we offered 7,897 appointments. 48% of appointments were booked within 48 hours and 69% in less than one week.
Where is my prescription?
We produce approximately 1,500 repeat prescriptions every week. Whilst prescriptions used to be mostly paper based, the system is becoming more and more virtual. The most successful method in which to order repeat medication, is for patients to order their medication on line; it is then processed, signed, and then sent to the pharmacy electronically. At every stage, the unique prescription number can be tracked so we know exactly where a prescription is.
For those that order their repeats via paper, problems can occur when; there is a query whether the correct medication was ticked by the patient, two prescriptions are handed in folded inside one another, whether they were put into the correct collection pouch for the pharmacy, whether they get mislaid whilst in the pharmacy etc, and with many pieces of paper going in and out of the surgery every day, it can be easy for one of them to go astray.
You can help by:
- Ordering your medication on line
- Choosing to allow your prescription to be sent electronically – even if you don’t order it on line
- Arrange to have your prescription sent to a pharmacy convenient to you, rather than collecting it from the practice. With electronic prescriptions, this can be to any pharmacy in England that is equipped to accept electronic prescriptions. One of these could be located near your workplace.