We are introducing a change to the way that we book GP appointments at the practice.

We currently offer telephone appointments as the first point of access.

Feedback from our patients and colleagues tells us that this system, in its current form, is not working; patients tell us that they often have been waiting a long time for the doctor to call them on the telephone without a clear idea of when the call might be and they feel that the continuity of being able to see the same doctor has reduced.

The workload of our clinical team and the demands on doctors’ time has become unsustainable; you regularly tell us that they are a fantastic team (we agree!) but they are now struggling to meet the increasing demand.

We want to work with you and our other patients to improve our service for everyone.


What is going to change?

From Monday 4th September 2017 all patients will access the practice via a telephone appointment with the most appropriate person for their needs; this could be a Doctor, a Physician Associate[1] or a Clinical Pharmacist[2] depending on what you are calling us for.

Telephone appointments will offered either in the morning or in the afternoon; if you are at work and need your appointment to be between certain times then please tell us and we will do our best to accommodate this.

To improve continuity, if you need to be seen face to face then this will usually be with the same clinician you had the telephone appointment with; if you want to speak to a specific clinician then please tell us it’s an on-going issue and we will do our best to accommodate this.

Why is the practice offering telephone appointments?  

When we looked at the reasons that our patients were booking appointments for, we realised that many people don’t need to come into the practice all and the majority of problems can be safely dealt with over the telephone. For example medication reviews and questions about medication; follow on sick notes or questions about test results. By offering you a telephone consultation as our first point of access we can therefore make more time for the patients who need to be seen face to face.


How is it going to work?

  1. Call us on the day that you need the advice or alternatively book your telephone consultation online; it should no longer be necessary to book appointments in advance however we will be releasing 25% of the available telephone appointments to book online from 8:00pm the night before. We know that our telephone lines are very busy first thing in the morning and we think that this will help you.


  1. When you do call, you will speak to one of our Care Navigators who will ask you to describe very briefly what you need help with today. The information that you choose to give will be treated as highly confidential and is purely for the purpose of helping you to speak to the best person; all members of the healthcare team, clinical and non-clinical, are bound by the same rules that protect your confidentiality.


  1. The Care Navigator will then book your telephone appointment with the most appropriate person for your needs. They are not there to diagnose you, only to offer you the choices that are available.


  1. 4. If following your telephone consultation you need to be seen face to face on that day, then the clinician will book you an appointment, however it may be necessary to see you at a later date, in which case they will book that for you; this will be either in the morning, in the afternoon or during an evening session.


What is going to happen after this new appointment system is launched?

Even with all our best efforts, we recognise that this new appointment system isn’t going to be perfect straight away. As we said earlier, we are going to need the help of all of our patients to get this right.

We will be asking for regular feedback and suggestions from our patients about how the appointment system is going. This feedback will be reviewed by Your Health Partnership (YHP) and patient representatives every three months. The review group will then suggest changes to the appointment system. Thus every three months the system will be improved based on the feedback we receive.  This is a system of continuous improvement which YHP will adopt.

By working in this way we will be co-creating a system that is responsive to the needs of our patients.

[1] Physician Associates support doctors in the diagnosis and management of patients. They are trained to undertake a number of roles including: taking medical histories, performing examinations, analysing test results, and diagnosing illnesses under the direct supervision of a doctor.

[2] Clinical Pharmacists are health professionals who train for many years to become specialists in medicines and they can help you with any questions you might have about your medication, including: advice on how to take your medication, possible interactions or side effects of medication, prescribing of an acute medicine that is not on repeat, medication reviews, switching medication and prescribing of medication following a hospital discharge.

  • Why is the surgery offering telephone appointments?

You have told us that sometimes you find it frustrating and difficult to get the appointment you need, when you need it. By offering telephone appointments and giving advice this way we can make sure that everyone is able to speak to or see their doctor on the day that they call or on the day that they choose.

Many people don’t need to come into the surgery to be seen at all; their problem can be dealt with by telephone. This gives your doctor more time to see those people that need appointments in the surgery. As your doctor is the one making the appointments he or she can judge how much time you might need and give you a long or short appointment. This helps appointments to run on time and means you’re more likely to be seen on time. We also know that when people make an appointment close to the date they call, they are more likely to keep the appointment.

  • What do I do if I need an emergency appointment?

Telephone Oakham Surgery and tell the Care Navigator that your health problem is urgent. The doctor will then make sure he/she calls you back as soon as they can.

  • Can I still telephone to make an appointment for a home visit?

When you speak to the doctor ask for a home visit. If you doctor thinks you need to be seen at home, he or she will arrange this when you speak to them.

  • Are telephone appointments safe?

During your call with the doctor he or she will ask questions to help them make a decision about whether you need to be seen in person or not. For example, if you doctor needs to look at something or examine you, you will be asked to come into the surgery for the appointment. If your doctor thinks you need to be seen he or she will always ask you to come into the surgery.

  • What happens if I have trouble using the telephone?

We would ask that you give your permission for another family member to call on your behalf. Alternative arrangements will be made for those patients who we are aware have diagnosed hearing problems.

  • Will I be seen quicker if I come into the surgery?

Unless your problem is an emergency you won’t be seen more quickly if you come into the surgery to make an appointment. You may have to wait at the surgery so if you can telephone for an appointment it’s usually more convenient for you.

  • Can I still book an appointment for next week or next month?

It should no longer be necessary to book appointments in advance; however, if it is deemed necessary and your problem cannot be sorted out on the same day, the doctor will try to accommodate your request.

  • I’m not comfortable telling the Care Navigator what is wrong, do I have to?

Knowing what your health problem is generally helps the staff at the surgery to make sure those people with more urgent problems are seen quickly. However, you don’t have to tell the Care Navigator what is wrong. If you’re not comfortable talking about your health problem, simply say.

Please make an appointment by telephoning on 01384 458 968.

Home Visits

In line with national standards, visits are reserved for housebound and terminally ill patients only. A doctor will ring you back to decide whether a visit is necessary or not. Please phone before 10.00am if possible to arrange a home visit. Requests for emergency visits can be made at any time by phoning the surgery. The telephonist will ask you for more information. The duty doctor will then assess the urgency of your problem.

Cancelling Appointments / Telephone Consultations

It is extremely important that you inform us if you need to cancel an appointment / telephone consultation. Every appointment is valuable to us and other patients. You can cancel your appointment / call back by calling 01384 458 968 or, if registered, by cancelling online.

Chaperone Policy

Oakham Surgery is committed to providing a safe, comfortable environment where patients and staff can be confident that best practice is being followed at all times. Any patient can request a chaperone, a trained member of staff, to be present during their consultation. If you feel you would like a Chaperone present at your consultation, please inform your Doctor/Nurse who will be more than happy to arrange this for you.

A doctor or nurse may request a chaperone but will always discuss this with you and you may, of course, refuse. If you would like to see a copy of our chaperone policy or have any questions regarding this, please contact the Outlet Supervisor.