We often receive question from patients about our appointment system so we felt it would be useful to create a list of our frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Why don’t you release all your future available appointments?
At present we release a carefully selected number of appointments on a daily basis. This will be a mixture of appointments offered for the same day, within a few days and within a few weeks. The number we release each day varies depending on predicted demand patterns and the number of clinicians we have available. For example we know Mondays and Tuesdays are our busiest days and will therefore look to offer more same day and future bookable appointments on those days.
If we released all our available appointment, for example over the next 6 weeks rather than a carefully selected daily amount, our demand analysis shows that within a week all 6 weeks would have be used. This would result in a wait of at least 5 weeks for any appointment.
I don’t mind waiting even for a few weeks for an appointment, why can’t you just book me in?
The reason for this is very similar to the previous answer. We need to carefully manage our future appointment availability to ensure we can provide a steady flow of appointments.
Why don’t you keep your online forms to access appointment on all the time?
We know online access provides a very convent way to request an appointment. Unfortunately the online service does not correspond to an equivalent reduction in demand for appointments over the phone. Historically we did have our online forms available all day to request appointments. This resulted in 200-300 forms being submitted per day. Each form we receive needs to be read, triaged and dealt with appropriately. It is likely to effectively meet demand for the online forms we would need to offer an additional 800-1000 appointments per week, alongside those offered as telephone appointments, a level which is unfortunately unattainable.
Why can’t I contact for an appointment via e-mail?
Our e-mail address is for general enquiries about the surgery only. We cannot accept any clinical requests via e-mail. There are a number of reasons for this:
- The e-mail is checked daily but not on an hour by hour basis
- The surgery gets a large amounts of legitimate e-mails on a daily basis and any clinical queries would be intermixed with these and impossible to separate and deal with effectivelty
- Whilst e-mails are looked at by our administrative team, they are not looked at by our specialised care navigation team, who are in the best position to ensure and query is put to the correct person
- We would encounter the same set of problems which are outlines in the previous question about online form access
Why can’t I just be added to the list to see the doctor / clinician today?
We often hear this request both on the phone or when a patient is talking to our reception team. Similarly another common scenario is when a patient can see the doctor down the corridor or in their room and asks if they can quickly pop in or ask a question.
The clinicians allow for 30 clinical patient assessments per day. Some of these cases will be very complex and need significant amounts of time and input to ensure the patients needs are met. Each encounter with a patient, even if was a simple conversation in the corridor should be documented in the clinical record. It isn’t safe to keep on adding more appointments to a clinicians list. “Decision fatigue” is a well known phenomenon and you can read more about this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decision_fatigue
In addition to seeing the patients, clinicians have significant amount of administrative work. Every blood test, radiology result, urine and swab result etc needs to be looked at on a daily basis. It is not unusual for each clinician to get 30 investigation results to process every day. Some of these will be normal but some may be abnormal necessitating action that day. In addition there are a significant number of hospital letters which need to be read, referrals which need to be created following on from appointments, processing sick note requests and regular queries from community teams. Often these are done at the end of the clinic day.
All of these factors are taken into consideration when considering how many patients a clinician can realistically manage on a day. The British Medical Association suggests 26 appointments / day for each clinician so we are already working over and above this.
With all the housing developments and increase in patient number, why can’t you stop taking on new patients?
The current contact with NHS England means that we are unable to turn patients away if they request to register with us. This means that even though we are oversubscribed in terms of patient numbers we have to continue registering patients.