Appointment System Change – 11th July 2022

Dear Patients,

It has been a long and arduous pandemic for all concerned, but we feel the time is right now to move back towards a more normal “business as usual” setup. This will mean a small change in the appointment system which we will outline below. The new appointment system will “go live” on Monday 11th July 2022.

What we’re asking

In order to facilitate this change we have really only two small asks of our patients:

  • That you complete the appointment request form on our website (available between 7-9am) or call us in the morning on the day that you wish for your problem to be dealt with before 9am. This applies whether your problem is of a routine or urgent nature.
  • That you have some patience and understanding whilst the changeover to the new system is bedding in.

Why we’re asking this

For many years now at Didsbury Medical Centre we have put a huge amount of our resources into providing on the day access. Clearly there is no ideal system that will suit everyone all of the time, but we have found that this is what most patients want. It also enables patients to be seen quickly when they are unwell, and it reduces wasted appointments from patients not turning up. Unfortunately this means there are very limited numbers of appointments that can be booked in advance, but overall this has been the case for quite some time and is the system that works for most people, most of the time.

What happens on the day

On the day a patient completes the request form, our reception team will forward this directly to a GP for triage and this will help to ensure that the patient is booked into the ideal type of appointment for them and their problem.

There are only a certain number of patients that we can deal with safely and on some occasions this may mean that we cannot deal with your query, therefore we will either signpost you to an alternative healthcare setting (111, walk in centres, pharmacy etc), or you have the option to contact us again at a later date. Please be reminded that appointments with our doctors are 10 minutes and with this is mind we ask you not to request that the GP deals with multiple issues in one appointment.

Patients will be informed, by text or telephone, of the type of appointment they have been given.

New types of clinicians

There has been a national shortage of GPs for many years now and, in line with government and NHS directives, we have developed the practice team to include many more staff who are fully trained to see, assess, diagnose and treat a specific range of clinical problems. These professionals include:

  • Physician Associates.
  • Clinical Pharmacists.
  • “First Contact” Physiotherapists.
  • Mental Health Practitioners.

They are all highly trained and competent professionals who help share the workload of our practice so that we can continue to provide access to a GP when this is clinically necessary. They all work closely in conjunction with our team of GPs and are fully supported and, where necessary, supervised in their roles. Feedback from patients who have seen them has been excellent across the board.

Benefits of the new system

There are a number of benefits which we envisage the new system will bring to our patient group:

  • Potentially more appointment availability overall.
  • Easier access to face-to-face appointments.
  • A wider range of available appointments and clinical expertise, including appointments with Physios, Pharmacists and Physician Associates.

Any drawbacks?

The main, and perhaps only, downside we envisage is that the reception team will spend a few extra moments on the phone completing the online forms for patients unable to do so themselves. It may therefore take a little longer to get through, especially initially as the new system beds in.

It is likely that our busiest times – i.e. first thing in the morning – will be the most affected by this. We are bringing in extra staff at those busiest times to try and mitigate the problem as far as possible, but again we politely ask for your patience and understanding during this initial period. We are also very hopeful that this will be significantly outweighed by the greater range of options and better outcomes that the new system will bring once you have spoken to our reception team.

Let’s all work together to ensure that the new system is a success so that we can ensure sustainable working conditions for our staff as well as improved access and services for our patients.

Kind regards,
Didsbury Medical Centre