Dear Patients

We wanted to respond to answer your queries following the Government’s release of its “Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care”. A lot of the points in the plan are already embedded in many practices, we felt it would be helpful to clarify current operation procedures at Horfield Health Centre.

We know first-hand that things have been extremely busy, the pressure and demand for appointments is very high, and continues to remain so.

To ensure safety, we do restrict our Duty Doctor urgent same day, lists morning and afternoon and will ask patients to contact 111 online or by phone or visit your pharmacy when we feel we have reached capacity on the day. We will deal with your request at your first contact but please bear in mind depending on capacity, we may navigate you to other options that are available to you. We are firm believers in continuity of care and will always recommend that you see your own GP.

The news about prescription medications available directly from Pharmacies is welcome, we always ask patients to visit their local pharmacies for many minor conditions as you will find you can access excellent help and advice quickly. A lot of minor illnesses and injuries do not need GP, so it allows us to be available for those that really do need an appointment with a GP, Practice Nurse or another member of the team.

We already ask patients when they contact us for a brief description of the issue you are calling about. We don’t need a lot of information here – but it helps our team direct you to the most appropriate person, in the most appropriate time frame. We have pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Mental Health support workers and Social Prescribing Link Workers working as part of our team – you may be directed to someone other than a GP.

We also ask if your issue is “urgent for today” – we can only deal with urgent issues requiring same day urgent care. This will always be triage by telephone, and the clinician will arrange to see you if that is clinically indicated.

For patients with routine issues, not requiring urgent, same day attention we do ask that you call us after 11.30am – hence avoiding the “8am rush” and you will be offered the next available appointment. If you would prefer this to be face-to-face, please let our team know. Our staff are trained to recognise certain issues will require a face-to-face appointment and this will be offered if this is the case (i.e. an examination is required). We find that many issues are appropriate for telephone consultations, we can view your entire record and history, send prescriptions electronically directly to your pharmacy etc, and many patients prefer this rather than taking time out of their day to visit the practice.

We appreciate the Government now states all appointments should be within two weeks. However, we know that many patients are happy to wait 3-4 weeks for their routine issue – often waiting for their preferred clinician. If we restrict booking to two weeks at a time, it means you may need to call us more than once– we feel it’s best to ask the patient and offer what is available and if they are happy to accept this, we think it is best to offer this.

We are pleased to see further advancement of the NHS app and we do recommend patients use this, to order their repeat medication and now you can view your GP record and test results.

We continue to work very hard to offer the best service for our patients, we appreciate your cooperation and support.

Horfield Health Centre

Published: May 19, 2023