We are changing the way in which we help patients at first contact

We are focusing our resources to help patients as soon as possible on the day. This is because there has been an exceedingly long wait for appointments. There are many reasons for this which we have outlined below; please see “Why we are changing the way in which we deliver some services?”

When contact with Riverside is made either through telephone or at the front desk, the receptionist will take details about the issue and log this with the patient’s own GP (triage list), unless a request for another GP is made, e.g. wish to see the same sex GP. The GP will then review the patient’s issue and organise the most appropriate care. This is likely to be a telephone call and or an appointment at the surgery the same day as resources allow. We will try and take account of people’s time preference for appointments.

The benefits:

  • Continuity in having contact with the usual GP
  • Quicker and more responsive care
  • Care from the practice and reducing the need for going elsewhere
  • Make appointments more efficient

This is a new system that will mean that pre-booking of appointments will be much restricted and will be directed by the GP. This has been used at other surgeries and has seemingly improved the patient’s ability to be seen by the doctor or healthcare professional sooner than waiting weeks for an appointment.

There are some aspects of this approach that we are continuing to review. We see this as a trial measure to meet the challenges of delivering safe and effective healthcare post-Covid. Please bear with us as we adapt and refine this system. Please be flexible, these changes are necessary so that we can continue to work well and respond to patients' comments and concerns.

Please help our staff, especially our receptionists adapt to this new system by being kind and respectful.

Why are we changing the way in which we deliver some services?

At Riverside Medical Practice we are experiencing an increase in demand for healthcare that is no different to GP surgeries across the country. This is at a time when the number of GP’s are falling nationally. Many surgeries have lost experienced GP’s due to workload pressures and retirement. The number of locum GP’s who supply cover for GP surgeries when there is a need has also reduced. At Riverside, we have not been immune to this and continue to pursue with recruitment which is extremely challenging in the current environment.

We are fortunate enough to have a wide range of other healthcare professionals that can help many of our patients with problems and reviews of chronic diseases very competently. These staff are supervised to the GPs of the practice in the care that they deliver.

In addition to the reduced work force of GP’s the demand for NHS and primary care (GP) services has significantly increased. It is thought that this is due to the backlog in hospitals and the delay in seeing specialists. Patients, whilst waiting for their operation or appointment with a specialist need ongoing care and they therefore see their GP more often and require more attention. There has been an increase in diseases that are being detected because of the pandemic where many patients experienced a reduced service by the NHS and deferred coming forward with their problems. In addition, there has been a steady increase of other issues and problems with people's wellbeing. Depression has doubled since pre-lockdown figures, anxiety and worry about minor ailments has increased significantly. Care and work that would have been undertaken in hospital is now being undertaken in the community, often by the GP or the GP team. Other backlogs in other areas of life are also impacting on GP service, such as DVLA waiting times for licences where at one time it was suggested that patients speak to their GP about their fitness to drive instead of waiting to hear from the DVLA.

Patients and their relatives are, understandably unhappy at this situation, as are those that work in the NHS. There has been an increase in complaints across the NHS and in the public sector. These complaints are generally about access to appointments, communication or not having letters/forms completed or being seen as they would wish to be seen. Unfortunately, there has also been an increase in assaults and abuse. There is an increasing level of frustration that is spilling over in to encounters that patients and staff have together.

We recognise the difficulties that people face in being seen in times of need. This is often a stressful and anxiety provoking time. We also understand that the NHS is not working as well as any of us would like it to at this point. However, we continue to find ways in which to overcome these challenges and prioritise care for those that are vulnerable and are in need. We need to see people as soon as possible if they present with an infection or in urgent need of medical attention. We need to attend to those that are dying or at the end of their life so that we can ease suffering and support them and their relatives at such a challenging time. Most of the time this is by seeing a doctor or qualified and experienced health care professional at the surgery by telephone or in person. Sometimes, this is helping patients avail of other NHS services when this is appropriate. This may be the online service e-consult via our website, the Crawley Urgent Treatment Centre, the Minor Injuries unit at Horsham Hospital or through other GP services online or on the telephone (LIVI). We will only direct patients elsewhere if it is safe and right to do so. We feel that care given by the team that you know at the place that you are familiar with is better for you and for us; we will try and deal with your issues, difficulties and concerns ourselves as quickly and as well as we can.

Please bear with us in these difficult and challenging times. Please contact us when you need to and do not put worrying symptoms off. Please prioritise your health and consider that although it may be inconvenient to take time off work or reschedule appointments it may be necessary as the NHS services are not as flexible due to various constraints as we or you would like them to be.

Published: Jun 22, 2022