It is our intention to up-date you on an ad-hoc basis in form of these Newsletters and incorporate information that is important to you as patients and to us as practice team. If you have a computer and internet access you can read all this information on-line in our practice website at: www.drkohlhagenandpartners.gpsurgery.net
However, first of all, please let us thank you as our patients, for your understanding, help and support you showed to our team over the last few months of transition. Many of you have encouraged and supported our team (medical as well as non-medical staff) which is working extremely hard and try their best for the patients at all times. That does not mean all goes well all the time. There are several important decisions to be made every day, with an ever increasing amount of paper/ computer work in between and after the surgery hours and of course, there is never enough time in the day.
We really wish we would have more time, more practice space, more practice staff etc. But we live in the real world and have to manage with what we have to offer the best to our patients.
As practice team we identified 2 main problems that we once again strive to tackle. These are the appointments and the communication with our patients.
We had several attempts of improving these areas in the past few years, however, it is ongoing and we try to keep up with the ever increasing demands on general practice.
In this 1st Newletter we wish to concentrate on these topics as they are top priority. We would like to have some feedback from you.
1 – Our top priority is the APPOINTMENT SYSTEM
Our practice has one of the highest patient / doctor numbers with a very high number of patients per GP. This makes our practice very busy and in recognition of this we had to change our appointment system several years ago from a pre-booking system to the on-the-day system with a minimum number of pre-booked appointment only after discussion and on request of a GP or the practice nurse. We have a computer system in place and if you phone on 3 consecutive days within a 7 day period unsuccessfully for an appointment our computer programme recognises this and we will offer you a pre-booked appointment. We feel that this is a fairer system and our patients do not need to book appointments 4 weeks in advance as they had to do under the old system for eg.just to have a blood pressure check by their GP. We understand the frustration many of our patients go through with multiple phoning in the mornings for an appointment and then the appointments are gone when you finally get through.
You can help by phoning later in the day for any non-urgent problems, like request for repeat medications, or lab results etc.
We also trained 2 of our receptionists (Rosalind and Alison) who are Health Care Assistants(HCA) .They are able to do blood tests, check blood pressure, weight , height and do other procedures. So please, ask for an appointment with our HCA if you only need some basic check. Ask the receptionists if you are not sure.
Despite all of this we still run short of nurses appointments and the requirements of the Primary Care Contract mean that we have to offer a large number of 20 and 30 min appointments with the nurse. This reduced the overall number of appointments our practice could offer to patients and we had to employ another practice nurse since November 2013.
Our practice nurses do the bulk of chronic disease monitoring (eg asthma and COPD review, Coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes etc). They also offer cervical smear appointments, advice on contraception, etc
Please help us and let our receptionists know what your appointment is for and they will direct you to the appropriate member of our team –GP, Practice Nurse or Health Care Assistant. The receptionist can also allocate the suitable length the appointment needs to be.
With all the above changes we can now offer about 600 !!! extra appointments per month including all our clinical staff compared to 2013. This is only by using the correct team member for appointments.
To remind you of longer pre-booked appointments we also started regularly texting you a reminder the day before your appointment. With this system we could reduce our “Did not attend” rate a great deal. Just make sure we have your up-dated mobile number and contact details.
However, we still have a small number of patients making an appointment for the same day who do not turn up few hours later. This is unacceptable and we are writing letters to these patients explaining the importance of keeping the appointment. Usually the same patients phone next day again for another appointment. Also we noticed that a number of our pre-booked return appointments do not turn up. These appointments are pre-booked due to GP’s concern about the patient. Please cancel the appointment if you feel that you do not need them anymore and your condition has improved.
Please remember, no system is perfect. But we try to see as many patients as possible as soon as we can. The old system was unacceptable and the new system has it’s faults as well. But at least you can see a member of our clinical staff much faster than before.
In addition, the minor ailment service is available at participating pharmacies so please enquire at your local pharmacy if they can help you with minor conditions.
It appears that despite us offering the service for few years, many patients are not aware that we have every Monday evening a clinic from 6 pm – 9 pm, intended for those who work out of the area during the day but if these appointments are not all taken, then are offered on the day to others. Please ask for this surgery if you work outside Greenock and have problems attending during normal surgery hours. You can pre-book an appointment for this surgery.
We have pre-bookable phone consultations during every surgery. A GP will phone you at an agreed time and discuss certain aspects of your health care/test results etc.
If you phone with concerns of your toddler or child and wish to discuss any issues we usually make every attempt to do so on the same day. We also operate a policy that at your wish or the doctors concerns we will see the child the same day, irrespective of when you phone with your concern. Obviously, you help us greatly to contact us sooner rather than later in the day.
If you phone and think that your problem is an urgent one we will see you or phone you the same day to try and help. We always keep urgent appointments and extend our surgeries as required to accommodate all urgent problems for the day. We try and avoid you from attending Out of hour or A&E due to a lack of appointments.
2 – As a team we are always seeking better ways of COMMUNICATION with our patients
Firstly, we have a new information screen in our waiting room. The plan is that in the future this screen will give relevant advice and up-date you on coming events, ie the start of the winter flu campaign, etc
Secondly, we would like you to use the suggestions/comment box which is next to our reception window. We placed it there together with cards and pencils for you to write a short note and place it in the box. We are always grateful for constructive and realistic ideas of improving our services.
Thirdly, we have added an information page on our up-dated website. The plan is to up-date this site regularly and inform you of coming events or any other practice information of interest. Please use this site as it also gives more information on frequently asked questions we get from patients.
Fourthly, we will ask you to complete written questionnaires during the course of the next few months. We may choose 2 separate weeks during the course of next few months to give you the chance to comment on our work.
If you have any concerns please let me or Dr Hussain know and we will address this. If thing go well please let us know as well. Nothing inspires a team as much as few words of positive feedback.
Please help us and give us your correct current contact details to keep us up-dated at all times.
Remember, you can read this information regularly up-dated on our practice website. If you do not have internet access please our receptionists for a print out of the up-dated newsletter which will be published on a regular basis.
With Kind Regards to all our patients,
Dr Michael Kohlhagen and Partners