Patient Notice

The way you book a GP Appointment is changing from 24th July 2023

Total Triage – The way forward?

Things are changing in primary care whether we like it or not. Workload is not sustainable and there is a rapidly shrinking workforce. Although politicians are finally talking about increasing the number of medical school places, trying to persuade people into general practice and remain there has become an ever more difficult challenge. 25% of newly qualified GPs are leaving the NHS before they reach 30 (3 years after completion of training).

The pandemic has dramatically increased GP appointment demand as we get an additional 50% of appointments through patient triage (e-consultations). This is on top of the already overbooked routine and emergency appointment surgeries.

We have a plan. It might even be a cunning plan.

Proposal – we plan to move to total triage. This means all requests for clinical matters get triaged by a GP and then the patient is directed appropriately. This might be to a GP appointment, it might be to the pharmacy, the mental health practitioner, social prescriber, care coordinator, the physiotherapist, the ANP at rota, Contact Cares etc. This is not to ‘fob you off’ but to direct you to the most appropriate person (and this might not be the GP). This should shorten the waiting time to see a GP for those who need GP input.

The default appointment will be face-to-face. This is how it was pre-pandemic. We are aware of how useful telephone appointments can be but the default will be face-to-face. Some patients insist on telephone appointments for convenience or believe telephone is suitable when face-to-face is more appropriate and this just adds to the workload. If your request is triaged and telephone is deemed appropriate, this can be offered instead.

Patients would access clinical or admin help via patient triage on the website or via the NHS app. Do not be alarmed if you are not savvy with technology. Patients can contact reception in the usual way and the receptionist will assist in the completion of a request which is then forwarded to triage. Appointments would be triaged into Red (see within that session), Amber 1 (see within a week), Amber 2 (see within 2 weeks) and Green (routine within 4 weeks).

General practice used to be the best job in the world but demand has outstripped the workforce and those in training are disillusioned by the workload. A lot of stuff lands inappropriately on the GP’s desk and it is only by changing the way we work and handing back inappropriate requests that we can hope to be able to attract the future workforce.

We will have teething problems. We will be making adjustments as we go. We will be asking for feedback. It has worked successfully in other areas and we hope to make it work here in Rainford.

Please bear with us as we make this transition.