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We Are Closed

Why is the way I book a GP appointment changing?

  • The Grove is dealing with unprecedented demand on GP appointments.
  • The wait time for a routine appointment has increased steadily over the last 12 months from 7 working days, to over 5 weeks at certain periods. This is despite The Grove offering up to 1000 more GP appointments a month in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • The GPs are concerned that this is too long, and we have patients waiting a long time for routine appointments who we would like to see sooner due to the nature of their problem.
  • The practice is now at capacity in terms of the number of appointments we can safely offer and we need to change our way of working to ensure appointments are used appropriately and efficiently.
  • The BMA advises for safety that GPs should consult with no more than 25 patients a day, our duty GP frequently sees up to 50 patients a day- this is not safe and not sustainable long-term.

Why is demand for appointments so high?

  • This is a national issue, and not just a local one.
  • We have an ageing population and a high proportion of our patients are elderly, frail and with multiple health conditions.
  • We have a high rate of patients not attending for appointments, in November 2023 alone, 84 GP appointments were wasted, this is over 300 hours of GP time.
  • Wait times for outpatient appointments and hospital care are lengthening, and patients often need to see their GP multiple times while waiting for an operation or outpatient appointment.
  • An audit of our appointments has found that a significantly high proportion of GP appointments are being used to discuss administrative queries or issues which would be better dealt with by an alternative service.
  • The Grove has seen our practice list size increase steadily over the last 3 years

Why can’t you employ more doctors?

  • NHS funding to individual GP practices has not risen above inflation in many years. Whereas costs have increased.
  • Previously, the practice would have been given Winter Funding to help fund a locum GP over high demand periods. Now this funding is allocated to provide our patients with extra appointments at Urgent Treatment Centres (previously known as walk in centres) and at the Primary Care Network (200 Osborne Road).
  • We are at full capacity in terms of what we can offer both financially and safely.

From the 31st January 2024 how will I book an appointment?

  • Patients can use the practice website or NHS app to fill in a short form advising the practice of their problem and reason for asking for advice or an appointment.
  • This functionality will be turned on from 7am in the morning Monday to Friday and will close once the practice has reached safe capacity for the day.
  • Your request will go directly to our Triage GP for the day. The GP will review all clinical requests and decide what needs to happen next.
    • The GP may text or call you asking for more information to make a safe decision
    • The GP may be able to solve your query or concern with some quick advice
    • The GP may advise that you need an urgent same day appointment and we will contact you to arrange a time
      • Please note urgent appointments are available at 200 Osborne Road (Jesmond Health Partnership) with a Specialist Paediatric Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Nurse Practitioner or Paramedic Practitioner and you may be allocated one of these.
      • Other urgent appointments are available at Ponteland Road Urgent Treatment Centre, Molineux Urgent treatment Centre and you may be allocated one of these appointments.
      • Urgent appointments for more complex cases are offered same day with a Grove GP
    • The GP may advise that you need a routine appointment with a GP and we will send you an online booking link to choose your requested GP and show all available times for convenience.
    • The GP may arrange a home visit (strictly for housebound, palliative and end of life patients)
    • The GP may direct you to another member of the practice team who can sort your issue such as the Secretarial Team, Practice Pharmacist, Social Prescriber
    • The GP may signpost you to another service which is better placed to manage your issue e.g. physiotherapy self-referral, local pharmacy, minor injuries unit

How can I make an appointment if I’m not online?

  • We would encourage those who can, to use the online service as this is the quickest and most efficient way to get help.
  • If you cannot access this there are other options:
    • 1. A family member or carer can fill in the brief form on your behalf
    • 2. Ring the practice in the usual way and our reception team will fill in the form on your behalf.
  • Please note- walk in patients will be given a paper copy of the form to fill in and this will be added to the triage list in time order to ensure equity and fairness for patient access.

What if my problem is urgent?

  • All requests will be looked at the same day by the triage GP
  • If you feel that your problem is clinically urgent and this needs to be highlighted; please phone reception after submitting your form and highlight this to the team- this will then be passed on to the triage GP.
  • If we have reached capacity for the day and you cannot submit a triage request and you feel your problem cannot wait until the next working day. Please telephone us, reception will take the details and we will advise you of the appropriate way to get help.

What does “triage” mean?

  • “Triage” is a system by which GPs use information provided by a patient in their online form, in conjunction with their medical records to make a decision on how urgently that patient needs to be seen and who is best placed to fully assess and manage their problem.
  • Total triage means that all appointment or advice requests are processed in the same way so we can make safe clinical decisions about urgency and allocation of appointments.

Are requests looked at by artificial intelligence?

  • No, all clinical triage requests are assessed by a Grove GP with access to your medical records to make a safe decision. There are no algorithms or use of AI.

Is the online form confidential?

Yes, the software we are using is approved by the NHS and we have been using it in the practice for the past few years to send texts and for patients to upload photos. The form you submit will be treated with the same confidentiality rules as your medical records.

What are the benefits for patients?

  • Patient safety is the main benefit. Patients will be reassured that their request will be looked at the same day by a Grove GP and triaged appropriately. Rather than the current system where they could be waiting weeks for an appointment.
  • With improved efficiency and use of local services, we hope wait times for appointments will reduce.
  • Increased continuity: patients with ongoing issues will be able to book with their regular GP.
  • We will be able to direct patients to GPs who have a special interest in a certain area- e.g GPs with expertise in women’s health, ENT and musculoskeletal conditions.
  • Urgent appointments will be clinically triaged by a GP- so they are available for those that need these.
  • The functionality will be turned on at 7am to 4pm or until we reach full capacity.
  • The self-book system will allow patients to book their own routine appointment online, so patients can choose the GP of their choice from all available appointment times.
  • Reduced waits for telephone contact with the practice.
  • The system will be much fairer, ensuring equitable access for all of our patients by creating one safe route into the practice.

Why will I get offered appointments at 200 Osborne Road and the Urgent Treatment Centres?

  • It would be our preference to see everyone at The Grove if we could.
  • However, for the abovementioned reasons we do not have the capacity to deal with all urgent same day appointments at the surgery.
  • Many acute problems such as chest infections, sore throats, ear aches, febrile children, acute abdominal pain can be safely dealt with by allied health professionals and so if we offer you a same day appointment at one of these services we ask that you take it.
  • This frees up GP appointments to deal with more complex presentations, such as managing patients with multiple medical conditions, ongoing problems, mental health issues, women’s health and palliative care.
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