Health matters

Ever had trouble getting a GP appointment, ever frustrated or confused?

This month we look at how the Academy Medical Centre appointments booking system works and how to best use this service.

The appointments system at Academy Medical Centre predominantly allows patients to book appointments with the GP of their choice up to approximately three months in advance. Appointments can be a 10-minute face-to-face appointment or a scheduled telephone consultation. This should avoid the need for patients, who can wait to be seen, to ‘phone at 8 a.m. If you feel your problem is more complex or you have multiple problems to discuss you may request that the receptionist make you a double (20-minute) appointment.

When making a pre-bookable appointment it may be useful for patients to consider which days of the week the GP of their choice is available, as not all the GPs in the practice work full-time. For information on which days the GPs work please refer to our website or pick up a flyer in the surgery.

When making an appointment further into the future, you may find it helpful to make use of our SMS text reminder service which confirms your appointment at time of booking and then sends you a text message reminder 24 hours before your appointment time. Please enquire at our reception desk for further details of this service.

A limited number of appointments are always available each morning for patients who do need to be seen more urgently. On telephoning the surgery to request an appointment patients will be asked by the receptionist for a brief outline of the problem. This is in order to assess which member of our team could deal most appropriately with your problem – this could be the GP, minor illness nurse, practice nurse, district nurse or health visitor. The reception staff are members of the practice Team and are trained to ask questions discreetly and courteously.

Any information given by you to a member of our staff is treated as strictly confidential. However, if you feel an issue is very private and do not wish to say what it is then this will be respected.

Once it has been agreed which member of the team you should see, you will be offered the next available appointment or a time that is convenient for you. It may not be necessary for a face to face appointment in the surgery as a telephone consultation may be both suitable and convenient for you.

Telephone consultations can be appropriate for new problems, where you do not need to be examined, or more long-term illnesses. Suitable problems might be advice about painkillers, requests for reports or medical certificates, finding out about results or letters, advice on how to deal with simple ailments such as chickenpox, coughs and colds, etc.

If you are unable to attend an appointment, for any reason, please contact the surgery as soon as you realise so that someone else may be able to use it.

With hundreds of appointments each week, the practice aims to provide the most suitable appointment for the health needs of every patient and this is much easier to achieve if patients can provide reception staff with as much information as possible.

l Compiled by the doctors, nurses and Academy Medical Centre Patient Participation Group.