We’re changing the way GP appointments are made

Submitted by Damien Mills on Tue, 18/02/2020 - 15:42

From February 24, 2020, the way we arrange GP appointments is changing.

Instead of making appointments on request, we’ve introduced a system that will make it quicker and easier to get the help you need.

The new system – called eConsult – allows you to tell us about your symptoms in an online form. You can fill out the eConsult form on any device [computer, tablet or phone], and it only takes a few minutes.

We’ll then contact you by the end of the next working day to let know you the next step, which might be a GP appointment. [The process is explained in detail below.]

If you don’t want to fill out an eConsult form, or are unable to, a patient advisor will ask you the questions and complete it on your behalf.

This change applies to patients of all Mayflower Medical Group surgeries – Ernesettle, Mount Gould, Trelawny, Collings Park and Stirling Road.

How does eConsult work?
The eConsult ‘window’ will automatically appear when you visit your surgery’s website:

Then, simply follow the instructions. You don’t need to log in, so there are no passwords to remember.

Depending on your responses you may be asked to add some information about your condition and symptoms. These are the same questions your GP would ask in a normal appointment.

eConsult also includes a wealth of information on how to treat yourself. So, you may be able to resolve your issue there and then.

If you can’t fill out the online form [or don’t want to], you can phone the surgery, or walk in. A patient advisor can then ask you the questions on the form and fill it out for you.

When filling out the form, it’s important to include as much information as possible about your condition.

You can also use eConsult to ask for sick notes and GP letters, and to discuss test results.

If you want to fill out an eConsult form but don’t have a device or access to the internet, we have tablet devices and free WiFi you can use at the surgery.

What happens next?
A clinician will then review your information and we’ll get in touch by the end of the next working day to let you know the next step.

For example:

  • If you need to speak to a GP, we’ll arrange a face-to-face appointment or phone consultation. Depending on the urgency of your situation this could take place the same day.
  • If you have a minor ailment, we’ll give you appropriate advice [for example, to visit a pharmacy or information on how to treat yourself].
  • If you need another service [a physiotherapist, for example] we’ll let you know.
  • If your condition seems more serious, we’ll deal with you as a priority – which might mean directing you to the Minor Injuries Unit or Accident and Emergency.

Why are we making this change?
The UK – and Plymouth in particular – is experiencing a shortage of GPs. This problem is exacerbated by patients failing to attend appointments and making GP appointments when another member of staff could deal with their problem or query.

As a result, our patients wait too long for appointments and too long on the phone waiting to book them.

This change will allow us to make better use of GPs’ time and to prioritise the care of patients who need it most.

It also makes life easier for you. For instance, completing an eConsult form will help you avoid unnecessary trips to the surgery. You can also log on wherever you are, 24-hours a day, and take as long as you want in filling out your details.

Plus, it helps people who might be embarrassed discussing their symptoms face to face.

Is this only affecting Mayflower Medical Group patients?
No, the NHS long-term plan commits all surgeries to change how patients access the surgery. This includes the use of digital tools, like eConsult.

Over 1,000 practices across the UK already use equivalent systems, and more than a million patients have submitted online consultation forms. In fact, most GP practices in Devon already offer online consultations.

What if my condition is life-threatening or serious?
If your condition is life-threatening, you should dial 999. This would include a heart attack or stroke, severe breathing difficulties, heavy bleeding or severe injuries.

If you need medical help, or advice, fast – for example, your symptoms are serious but not life-threatening – dial 111 or go online to https://111.nhs.uk/. The NHS 111 service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

How do I get more information?
While we’ve covered as much as possible in this letter, we understand that you may have more questions about the new system.

If you want to find out more about eConsult or would like to give us some feedback, email d-ccg.Mayflower@nhs.net

We’ve also produced a ‘FAQs’ document, which is continually updated and will provide more detailed information. You can read these online at https://www.accesshealthanddental.co.uk/gp-surgeries-medical-centres