A GP practice is to change the way its patients make appointments to help reduce waiting times and ensure a more responsive ‘same day’ service.

Leiston Surgery has also trained receptionist staff as ‘Care Navigators’ so that they can direct patients to the most appropriate healthcare professional to meet their needs.

It means that when patients contact the surgery they will be asked a few questions about the reason for their call.

The new system – developed by clinicians following feedback from patients – will be introduced from Monday, April 16.

Patients who would like to learn more about the changes are invited to attend an information afternoon from 2pm-4pm on Wednesday, March 7 when members of staff will be on hand to answer any questions.

Practice Manager Sarah McLennan said: “We’ve listened to our patients and have developed a new, same day service that we hope will be more responsive. Our receptionists are key to this and have a wealth of invaluable experience.

“Care navigation is commonplace across many surgeries in the UK – including others here in Suffolk. It has been designed by doctors and other clinical staff to ensure that patients are always seen by the right healthcare professional to meet their needs.

“We understand that some patients may be uncomfortable talking about the reason for their call to anyone other than a GP – and where this happens we will of course respect their wishes.

“But we would ask for patients to support us with the changes if they can. Knowing the reason for a call helps staff to make sure those people with more urgent issues are seen quickly.”

The changes mean that when a patient contacts the surgery they will be directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional to meet their needs. This may not always be a GP but instead could be a nurse, practice paramedic, healthcare assistant or physiotherapist.

If patients do need to see a doctor, their name will be added to a ‘call back’ list and they will be contacted by a GP. If necessary, they will then be booked in for an appointment on the same day.

Ms McLennan added: “In some circumstances it is more appropriate for a patient to be seen by a healthcare professional with specialist knowledge who isn’t a GP. For example, someone suffering from persistent back or neck pain would benefit more from seeing a physiotherapist, or someone with a long-term condition such a diabetes or asthma could see one of our nurses.

“By drawing on the skillset of our wider clinical team it means patients can always be assured of seeing the right person at the right time. Meanwhile GPs can spend a greater amount of time with the patients who need them most.”

Leiston Surgery is part of Suffolk Primary Care – a collaboration for 11 GP practices from across the county that have joined together to tackle some of the pressures currently facing primary care and the NHS.

For more information about the changes to the appointment system please visit www.leistonsurgery.co.uk or pop in to reception to pick up a patient information leaflet. Alternatively, patients are welcome to attend the information event between 2pm-4pm on Wednesday, March 7.

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