Why do receptionists ask so many questions?
Many feel that the role of a medical receptionist is to keep the patient away from the doctor so that he or she can enjoy an afternoon with their feet up. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The role of the receptionist is to help the patient navigate an often complicated health and social care system.
At Taverham this is done in several ways but always starts with asking the patient questions ranging from simple things such as “What is your name” to some more intimate details of why the patient has contacted the surgery. The answers help our trained receptionists to assist patients in the following ways:
Signpost the patient to the most appropriate service.
Patients may not realise it but an appointment with a GP may not be the most appropriate course of action for their condition. A few examples are:
- A trained diabetic nurse can have more knowledge about a diabetic condition than a GP.
- An ambulance crew are better skilled to deal with a heart attack or stroke than a GP in a GP Surgery.
- A patient complaining of a broken finger nail (yes this happens) should see a beautician.
- In some circumstances it may be more appropriate for some diagnostic tests (Blood Pressure, ECG, Urine test etc.) to be carried out before a course of action is suggested. This course of action may include an appointment with a GP.
The surgery employs and has access to a variety of staff with differing specialities and skill levels. i.e a Clinical Pharmacist is more skilled in dealing with queries about medication than many other clinicians. A Nurse Practitioner may have spent a large part of their career in a specialist department and therefore have more knowledge in that area than a generalist (GP).
This is done within strict protocols and in most cases only relates to simple issues or those commonly seen at particular times of year i.e. common cold. This will be very similar to the advice that can be obtained from the NHS website www.nhs.uk.
Referral to the Duty Doctor
Our reception team is supported by our Duty Doctor. During times of peak demand this doctor is immediately available to the team and sits directly within the team. Based on the information provided to the Receptionist the doctor will undertake any of the following:-
- Provide advice via the receptionist.
- Signpost the patient to an appropriate service.
- Provide treatment (prescription etc.).
- Ask for more information.
- Offer a telephone call back. These will be prioritised based on the information provided to the receptionist handling the call.
- Offer an appointment with an appropriately qualified clinician.
This information is conveyed by the receptionists.
Why can’t I speak directly to the Duty Doctor?
When the Duty Doctor is providing immediate support to our reception team they are potentially dealing with up to 6 staff taking phone calls. If they were to become involved in a protracted telephone call/discussion during this time it would severely impact the service being provided to all our patients. For appropriate issues we are happy to arrange for the Duty Doctor to call patients back outside of our times of peak demand.
Why don’t you just open the doctors’ appointments on a first come first serve basis?
There are a few reasons for this.
- We don’t want to waste a patient’s time by them having an inappropriate appointment or an appointment with a wrong clinician.
- We want to provide patients with the appropriate treatment levels.
- We would be unable to resource the Practice to meet the demand of an uncontrolled appointments system.
- Ideally we would like to make best use of our clinicians’ skills and competencies.
Underpinning this is the principle of Right patient, Right clinician, Right time, Right setting.
All our staff are subject to confidentiality agreements and undertake regular information governance training to understand how information should be handled, the principles of information governance and the penalties if these are breached. The Practice takes patient confidentiality very seriously.
When contacting the surgery it would be helpful if you could have the following information ready:
- Date of birth
- Nature of the symptoms and timescales.
- A brief history of your condition
Improved Access to Appointments
Norwich GP’s have been offered an opportunity to take part in a project to improve patient access to primary care by working together for the benefit of their patients. Additional appointments will be available weekdays between 14:00pm and 20:00pm and during selected times at weekends and bank holidays, to registered patients. Patients registered with any participating GP Surgery within the Norwich area will be able to have an appointment at these extra clinics. Please contact our reception team for more details.
Fine issued to Bounty
You may be aware of a recent fine issued Bounty, a pregnancy and parenting club, by the Information Commissioner for sharing information with third parties without making the public aware. You can find more information by clicking this LINK. The practice takes privacy and lawful use of information seriously and works hard to ensure that our service providers, partners and suppliers are trustworthy and compliant and although the practice is not directly affiliated with Bounty, we have looked into the matter to provide our patients with reassurance.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please do let us know.
Please see our Vacancies page for latest jobs.
Women offered NHS breast screening after missed invitations
If you have any queries or questions regarding this please contact Public Health England on 0800 169 2692.
Up to 309,000 women aged between 70 and 79 will be offered the opportunity for a catch-up NHS breast screening test this year.
The decision follows analysis by Public Health England (PHE) dating back to 2009, which found that a number of invitations for a final test had not been sent out to women, between their 68th and 71st birthday. The total number of older women affected since 2009 is estimated to be approximately 450,000.
The routine NHS breast screening programme invites more than 2.5 million women every year for a test, with women between the ages of 50 to 70 receiving a screen every 3 years up to their 71st birthday. Around 2 million women take up the offer.
The problem was identified in January 2018 whilst reviewing the progress of the age extension trial (AgeX). It then became apparent that a similar impact has resulted from long term problems with the routine programme as well. In addition, some local services have not invited everyone for a final screen in the 3 years before their 71st birthday.
PHE has carried out a thorough investigation including a detailed analysis of data going back to 2009 and has been advised by experts and clinicians. The fault has now been identified and fixed and women who did not receive their final routine invitation and are registered with a GP are being contacted and offered the opportunity to have a catch up screen. All of these women will be contacted by the end of May 2018. Women can seek advice by calling the helpline on 0800 169 2692. We anticipate that all rescreens will be completed by the end of October 2018 and extra capacity is being identified so that routine screening will not be affected.
Dr Jenny Harries, PHE Deputy Medical Director said:
“On behalf of NHS breast screening services, we apologise to the women affected and we are writing to them to offer a catch-up screening appointment. They and their families’ wellbeing is our top priority and we are very sorry for these faults in the system.
“A complex IT problem with the breast screening invitation system has led to some women not being invited for their final screen between their 68th and 71st birthdays. We have carried out urgent work to identify the problem and have fixed it. Additional failsafe systems have been introduced to ensure the problem does not reoccur.”
The NHS breast screening programme is a world leading prevention service for women in England detecting around 18,400 cancers per year and saving 1,300 lives.
Local breast screening services are currently working closely with NHS England and PHE to ensure that all of the women affected are contacted and offered the opportunity for a screen.
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has commissioned an independent review of the NHS breast screening programme to look at issues, including its processes, IT systems and further changes and improvements that can be made to the system to minimise the risk of any repetition of this incident.
The review will be chaired by Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support and Professor Martin Gore, Consultant Medical Oncologist and Professor of Cancer Medicine at The Royal Marsden, and is expected to report in 6 months.
- It is estimated that 450,000 women since 2009 were not invited for a screen and 309,000 women were not invited for a screen and are alive.
- The long term clinical research trial called AgeX, led by Oxford University, is ongoing to assess reliably the risks and benefits of offering an extra screen to women aged 71 to 73 and between 47 to 49 years.
- All women that were not sent an invitation for their final screen will be given the opportunity for a new screening appointment. All women under 72 years old who are affected will receive an appointment letter informing them of their time and date. Women aged 72 years old and above will be able to contact a dedicated helpline to discuss whether a screen could benefit them.
- There are 79 local NHS breast screening services across the country. Women are routinely screened every three years, with the number of women invited per screening service ranging from 25,738 to 254,645.
- An independent panel concluded in 2012 that, while routine breast screening at ages 50 to 70 confers significant benefit to UK women, the advantages and disadvantages of starting breast screening at younger or older ages were uncertain. A clinical trial, AgeX led by Oxford University, is ongoing to assess reliably the risks and benefits of offering an extra screen to women aged 71 to 73 and between 47 to 49 years.
- The total number of women screened in 2016 to 2017 was 2.2 million (2,199,342). The number of women invited was 2.9 million (2,959,979).
- In developing its response to this issue, PHE consulted an expert clinical group including radiologists, consultant breast surgeons, oncologists and epidemiologists.
Travel Vaccinations (Change to timescales)
We have listened to concerns raised by our patients and relaxed the timescales for receipt of travel questionnaires.
We will now review any questionnaires received at least 3 weeks prior to travel. However, we cannot guarantee delivery of all vaccines that may be required if a questionnaire is received less than 8 weeks prior to travel.
It is important that you submit your completed travel questionnaire as early as possible to allow the maximum amount of time for your requirements to be assessed and all necessary vaccines to be administered and become active before you travel.
Please visit our Travel Services page for more information
Please do not ask your doctor for 'over the counter' medicines
People in Norfolk and Waveney are being urged not to ask their doctor for everyday medicines like paracetamol as part of a new campaign.
Norfolk and Waveney’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups are asking GPs not to routinely prescribe ‘over the counter medicines’ for some common conditions, unless in exceptional clinical circumstances.
Instead, people are being encouraged to buy them at a pharmacy or shop so that the NHS can spend the money it would otherwise cost on other areas of healthcare. If more people self-care for minor ailments, it could also free up important appointment time at GP practices.
Click here for more information.
Text Messaging/Smartphone App
MJog is the provider of our sms text messaging service for appointment reminders, and other healthcare related text messages. They now have a smartphone app called MJog Smart. The MJog Smart service is quick and easy for you to use. Wherever and whenever you are, you can access your messages 24/7, 365 days of the year, directly through the MJog Messenger App which is available to download from the App Store and Google Play Store. For more information visit www.mjog.com/messenger.
National Diabetes Audit
Click here for Information about the National Diabetes Audit (NDA). This provides information on what's new, what the NDA measures, its aims and objectives, how your data is analysed and data access requests.
Your Electronic Patient Record and the Sharing of Information
For a number of years, work has been ongoing to improve the way that medical records are made available to treating clinicians. Our main computer system is called SystmOne which has the advantage of enabling information to be shared between certain health professionals. For more information please click here.