Stonehaven Medical Group

NHS Scotland

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Surgery Snippets – September 2022

It was with profound sadness that we learnt of the death of Her Majesty the Queen last Thursday. We recognise the lifetime of service the Queen gave to the Nation and at 96 years of age and just two days before her death she was still carrying out her constitutional duty. Rest in peace Your Majesty.

Staff Update

Dr Dossett recently retired after 30 years at the practice. As many of you will know, Dr Dossett dedicated his working life to serving the patients of Stonehaven and has been an incredible servant to both the practice and the community. He will be sorely missed at the practice.

Dr Priyesh Tiwari completed his GP training with us last month and has moved on to working in Westhill. We also have some new faces and some changing roles from within the team. Dr Tehreem Niazi has recently returned to complete her GP training and will be working with us until Sept 2024. Julie Cromar has started in a new role of Trainee Advanced Nurse Practitioner, moving from her role as a Practice Nurse. We also have Kim McKenzie starting with the practice nursing team.

Upgrade to Phone Lines

The Practice has had some work carried out on our phone lines. If you receive a call from 0300 373 0717 this could be the surgery trying to get in touch with you. This number will not accept incoming calls and if you miss it, you will need to call back on our usual switchboard number which is 0345 337 1160.

Covid Recovery

As we all know, Covid restrictions have reduced for a while now but this does not mean that we can return to pre-Covid ways of working. There are a number of reasons for this and we hope that by sharing more information about this, it will help our community understand more about how we are working and why.

In the first wave of Covid, significant changes had to be made to safeguard patients and the practice.

This led to the introduction of a total triage system where all contacts from patients were pre-assessed by the clinical team to determine how best to deal with them, with the aim of managing issues remotely – either by eConsult or by telephone – where safe to do so.

The triage approach has been maintained throughout the last two and a half years. However, rather than all contacts being “triaged” and then allocated to an appointment on a future time or day, we now provide a different approach where we try to deal with every patient contact as it comes in on the same day or next day. This is the same whether you submit an eConsult or contact us by telephone.

There are some common questions we hear from patients that we will answer below:

Why are you still using the “total triage” system and not allowing patients to book into appointments directly?

The total triage system has allowed us to offer a significant increase in the total number of patient contacts our staff provide. It has also become clear that many issues can be safely and effectively managed without the need for face to face appointments and this can be more convenient for patients.

In comparison to pre-Covid, we are now able to provide 35% more patient contacts each week.

We have been able to achieve this increase primarily through the increased use of eConsult during the pandemic. This service provides us with incredibly helpful information from patients which allows us to treat and care for more patients per day. We appreciate that eConsult is not appropriate for every patient in every situation but it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week and the information collected give us a comprehensive patient history allowing us to spend more of our time on managing and treating patients.

What happens when I submit an eConsult?

When your eConsult is submitted and received by the practice, this will be responded to in one of several ways. This is determined based on selecting the right person in the right place for your issue and can include being contacted by:

• Administrative team – resolving administrative queries and sign posting to other services
• Clinical team – Practice Nurses, Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Physician Associates and GPs
• Pharmacy team – helping with medication and clinical questions
• Mental Health Practitioner – for psychological support
• First Contact Physiotherapist – all musculoskeletal presentations
• Community Health Team – district nurses, health visitors, midwives, community psychiatric nurses

You will receive an initial response to your eConsult either on the same day you submitted the eConsult (or the next working day if submitted when the practice is closed) or the following day.
Whenever possible the practice team will try to deal with your issue during this first contact with the practice i.e. on that day or the next day. This could be by email, phone call or by arranging a face to face appointment and the practice team will be able to work out the best option for you.

There may be times when we need to organise other tasks or appointments (such as blood tests or urine tests) before we can deal with your issue and in these cases you will be advised of this by the practice team.
Around 90% of patient contacts are dealt with fully on the same day or next day.

What will happen if I call the practice to try and make an appointment?

When eConsult is not the right choice, our telephone lines will always remain open. You cannot book directly into a specific appointment time but you will be able to request a specific member of the clinical team. Our reception team will still take some important information from you which will allow them to book you with the most appropriate member of the clinical team or with your requested clinician if they are available.

This initial appointment will be booked for that day or the following day and, in the same way as eConsult, the clinical team will try to deal with your issue during this first contact with the practice.

Due to the changes in the way that we are working, we are pleased that we no longer have to ask patients to call back the next day because we have run out of appointments and we are able to respond to and deal with the vast majority of patient contacts within one working day. We have always strived to provide the best possible access to practice services for our patients and feel that our current way of working achieves this.

Are you seeing patients face to face?

Yes. We have always been seeing patients face to face throughout the pandemic whenever this was required. We have learned that many issues do not require a face to face consultation but when we identify that a face to face appointment is required we will organise this for you. There are no barriers to seeing patients face to face as there were early in the pandemic and around 20% of our GP and Advanced Practitioners appointments are now face to face.

We appreciate that this way of working is different from the traditional GP model but we feel that this is the best approach to continue at this time. There remains significant pressures across all Health and Social Care services and we want to continue to provide a highly responsive service for our patients when they need it.

We hope to restart our Patient Participation Group meetings in the near future and hope that through these meetings that that we will be able to share more regular updates about practice matters and seek feedback from the community to help us provide a high quality service and improve our patients experience with the practice.