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GP phone triage - accessing urgent healthcare more conveniently

July 3, 2020


GP Phone Triage, accessing urgent healthcare more conveniently

Many of you will already have had some experience of GP Phone Triage already, and so far, the feedback has been resoundingly positive.

Most of our Medplus work is looking after long-term health conditions, where people book in advance for the doctor of their choice. However, every day there are those that have had accidents or who have caught an infection and would like to see a GP urgently. Currently, all appointments that are left available on the day are saved as urgent appointments, to be used by those who need medical help that day.

If you request an appointment on the day you will get a brief phone call back by a very experienced GP or Nurse prescriber, to see how Medplus can best help you. This means we can often solve problems without any inconvenience to you of having to come in.

We are finding more and more ways to help our patients without an appointment. Often parents of young children would just like to have a quick chat to the GP about the cough or cold symptoms they are experiencing and appreciate some advice. Patients who have seen the Ear Health nurse and need ear drops can have them without coming in. If you have a typical urinary tract infection, we can arrange a urine test at the lab and give antibiotics without a review. A lady experiencing bleeding in early pregnancy can have an ultrasound scan sorted out and bloods arranged quickly over the phone.

For those who are unwell it means we can get them in urgently for a review in the next available appointment. What has astounded us is that we can assist 40-70% of people over the phone, who otherwise would have unnecessarily clogged up our urgent on the day appointment slots. We have had crazy days when over 60 people have called wanting an appointment, when we only have 12 left. Through phone triage we can ensure that we manage demand and get those who need it seen. This has been very satisfying, and we are delighted that we have so far managed not to turn anyone away on the day, even on days when we have had several GPs off on sick leave. We know you are used to getting appointments on the day at Medplus – it is not like that in most medical centres. We know some of our local colleagues have had a 2 week wait for urgent appointments during the last couple of weeks that have been very busy.

We are also finding phone triage incredibly useful to segregate potential COVID patients from everyone else. It also helps us direct people into the most convenient and suitable appointment. For example, a virtual appointment may be suitable for many conditions. If during phone triage we realise our patient has depression, we can make sure that we book them a double appointment so there is plenty of time to address their needs.

Whilst anything new takes a while to get used to, we hope that you will appreciate this new tweak to our service. Remember, you will need to call reception for any on the day appointments, which will be allocated after you have spoken to the GP on the phone. Do use the portal if you want to book ahead to see the GP of your choice at a time that best suits, but no on the day appointments will be visible.