Changes To Our Appointment System

 

From 29th April 2024, we are asking all our patients to use an online Patchs form to contact the surgery for all  appointments and clinical queries.

Whilst our phone lines will still be open, if you do call the surgery we will politely request that you complete an online form. If your personal circumstances mean that it is impossible for you to do this, or for someone you know to complete the Patchs form on your behalf, our care navigators will assist you with this.

Patients who are unable to use PATCHS e.g elderly, patients with learning disabilities or those who do not have access to the internet may still telephone the surgery to book appointments

The Patchs form is brief, and will ask you the following questions:

  • What your query is about
  • What action you would like
  • You will be invited to submit photos if relevant.
  • You will be able to submit a form between 7:30am- 4:00pm (Monday to Friday)

All forms will be screened by a GP on the same day. Please provide as much information as possible when you complete the Patchs form, as this will help the Doctor to find the right help for you. We will get back to you on the same day.

  • Clinical queries are screened by a doctor and categorised according to urgency of need. We have appointments available within different time frames, including on the same day.  Our care navigators will contact you to arrange an appointment.
  • We may organise some investigations for you while you are waiting to be seen.
  • It may be possible to deal with your problem directly without the need to see a clinician.  Alternatively you may receive advice about self care or other services you can refer yourself to. 
 

FAQs

How will the system work?

For a new healthcare issue or follow up of a new problem we would like you to submit a Patchs request.

To begin with we will aim to address all requests on the same day submitted, so only submit if you’re available for a call or in-person appointment that day. The duty clinician will review your request and suggest a phone or face-to-face appointment or recommend other actions like a blood test. Patches and reception will promptly inform you of the outcome and any necessary visit details, all on the same day as your request. Please avoid submitting if you cannot be reached.

For follow-up care after a consultation, clinicians will either book this in directly with you, or ask that you fill in a new Patchs request once you have followed the recommended advice/had the advised test/after the set amount of time. Again, this should be on a day that you are able to have a consultation by phone or face to face.

For routine reviews of long-term conditions or prescription reviews you will be invited to book an appointment.

Why are we making this change?

We think the current system doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for you as patients, and it doesn’t work for us as reception staff or clinicians.

At 8am we get a huge influx of calls, and although the new telephony system helps you to queue, 3-6 reception staff cannot answer over 100 calls all at once; this still results in waits on the phone and being told all appointments have been filled for on the day issues, once your call is answered. We know how frustrating this is.

It is in line with NHS England digital directive and makes sense in a world where you can book hair appointments or restaurant tables online that we aim to move towards a similar digital approach for your convenience. By making these changes, we aim to prioritize appointments based on clinical needs, ensuring that urgent requirements receive prompt attention.

Currently there is also a lot of duplication of work, unnecessary appointment use due to misunderstanding of healthcare worker roles, or wastage. This system will allow us to manage this better resulting in greater efficiency and appointment availability.

For example: we currently have on the day appointments with GPs used for things such as chasing hospital clinic appointments; issues for which an appointment has already been prebooked but this appointment remains uncancelled; patients having been advised to ‘speak to their GP’ by a hospital team when this should go to admin staff; simple requests for routine medication prescriptions or annual blood tests; other requests for administrative letters, or health problems which could have been dealt directly with by an allied health professional.

What if someone is not able to complete an online form due to personal accessibility limitations?

We have assessed our population, and we know that this will apply to a small number of patients. They will be able to phone reception and reception staff will take the information over the phone and submit a PATCHS digital triage form,

What information will be requested on the form?

Some basic information on what your complaint is, the basic symptoms, for how long and whether you have any specific concerns about it, such as worries about underlying cause or specific need for treatment.

The Patchs system is similar in some ways to the 111, in that it follows an algorithm.

It guides you through initial checklist questions, flagging any RED FLAG symptoms and prompting you to seek emergency services. After the checklist, you can provide additional information in free text format.

What outcomes to requests will there be?

This might be information about self-care, directing you to another care supplier such as the pharmacy or social services. It might also include an appointment being booked with a clinician (GP, nurse or allied health professional), or requests sent directly to administrative and secretarial staff to process.

Will all requests lead to an appointment with a GP?

No. As above, you may be given an appointment with another healthcare professional within the Yiewsley Family Practice team, or you may be advised to speak to a community provider such as the pharmacy or health visitor. You may be sent some written advice, or you might be asked to have a certain test e.g. blood test, first.

Will it be possible to state how urgent the need is?

Absolutely. People generally have a good sense about how urgent their needs are, so alongside the other clinical details you give this will be important information. There may still be times when the clinician feels differently. It maybe you underestimate your need, and we want to see you sooner, conversely we may judge the need is less urgent than you thought.

The Patchs system is smart. As well as the clinician reviewing information and deciding on what is needed, the system will flag up and highlight requests submitted that look like they need quicker attention, so that the clinician will see these quickly and review them sooner.

How will I be notified of an appointment?

The Patchs system has a lot of functionality and will notify you of an appointment outcome via email or SMS.  For face-to-face appointments you will receive a call or text message confirmation from reception staff.

We stress again that initially, after introduction of this system, appointments will be offered on the SAME DAY as the request is placed. So be ready for an appointment that day. If you are unable to receive the call or come in, you will be asked to resubmit a request another day.

If the outcome to your request is advice or information only, then you will receive this by email or text message.

How will I book a routine review that is due?

Asthma, COPD, diabetes, heart failure, contraception etc reviews will be prebookable in advance. When these are due you will be sent a link to look at available appointments to book directly. If you receive a screening letter for a smear (which we are not notified of necessarily) you will be able to complete the online form through Patches advising that this is due and you will similarly then be sent a link to look through available appointments to book directly.

Demand over capacity – what will happen?

Of course, this system will not create us any more appointments. We hope that directing people to the most appropriate person will free up a little more appointment time due to increased efficiency, but undoubtedly there will still be times when we simply cannot meet demand on certain days. In this case those patients who are felt to need medical assessment will be directed to 111. This is in line with national guidance.

It is crucial clinicians practise safely and there is strong evidence that providing care well above available resources compromises patient safety. To receive the best care, you do not want to be the 50th person that GP has dealt with on that day!

How is this system fairer?

Currently the appointment system is essentially first come, first serve. It relies entirely on you telling us how urgent the need is, and (understandably) how many times you have already tried to make an appointment. Some patients may choose to wait or schedule appointments weeks in advance, potentially not aligning with their clinical needs. There are also those who struggle to call at 8am for various reasons and this creates further problems when all our on the day appointments are filled commonly in less than an hour.

This system will allow everyone an opportunity to provide the same clinical information for a GP to review and make appointments based on clinical need.

By prioritizing clinical need, we believe this system establishes a fairer approach to serving all patients.

Will Yiewsley Family Practice be reviewing how the system works?

Yes, as with any system change there are likely to be issues that arise, some we may have predicted, and others that catch us off guard. We hope that you will understand this may be the case and that the system will evolve over time.

To help the system improve we value your input and encourage constructive feedback from patients. We have also been open with all members of the Yiewsley Family Practice team that we need feedback on how it works for them too.

Please provide constructive feedback, comment or suggestions through our Contact Us Form 

Further Patchs Information

There are further details on how to use Patchs on their website

Published: Apr 23, 2024