Signposting when you call the surgery

Following changes to the GP Contract, from the 15th of May, we are changing the way patients access services at the surgery by introducing signposting.

The key objective of Care Navigation and Active Signposting is to help patients access the right care at the earliest opportunity. It is a system of ‘triage’ carried out at the first point of contact with the GP practice by non-clinical staff under the direction of the clinical team.

The key driver for this patient-centred approach is outlined in the 2023/24 contract. Patients must be offered an assessment of need, or signposted to an appropriate service, at first contact with the practice. 

A letter to our patients

Dear Patients,

In recent days there has been a great deal of publicity about general practice and their desire to avoid seeing patients; we would like to assure you that this isn’t the case. Our reception team are coming under a great deal of pressure from some patients, and we see a need to clarify what happens when you speak to a member of our reception team.

Our reception team are experts at ‘signposting’. When you next call the surgery for an appointment with a Health care professional or are perhaps seeking advice, one of our trained Receptionists will ask you for a brief description of your problem or ask you some questions about your request. They don’t direct you elsewhere so that we can avoid seeing you.

Our reception team will ask what the problem is, no matter why you want an appointment. They aren’t nosey, and they’ve undoubtedly heard it all before. Our team are bound by confidentiality rules, and the surgery would take any breach of confidentiality seriously. All information given is documented within your records to assist the GP with your appointment.

Our team ask you about your problem because they want you to have the most appropriate appointment in the quickest time possible - Applying the RIGHT PERSON, RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME approach and MAKING EVERY CONTACT COUNT.

If you’re telling us that you have severe chest pain, we don’t want you waiting a few hours to see us; we want you to call 999. This happens more frequently than you might think, and often our reception team will call 999 to get help to you, because of the symptoms you mention.

You might want to see your usual GP because you like them; you’ve been seeing them for the last 20 years. But if you want advice about an area in which we have a GP with a specialist interest, you might get an answer more quickly if you see them.

Sometimes you might want to see a GP for something that one of our nurses does routinely. Our nurse might have availability this week, but you might need to wait two weeks for a non-urgent appointment with your GP.

We’re encouraged to send people with a cold, diarrhoea or other minor ailments to the pharmacy or the minor eye conditions service. Again, this isn’t because we don’t want to see you; this is because having minor ailments dealt with by these services means we have more appointments available to deal with suspected cancers, mental health problems and chronic conditions.

In short, each one of our team became part of the NHS family because we want to help our patients, so please don’t feel that we don’t want to see you. Sometimes we can get a quicker, more appropriate result for you by asking you to see someone who isn’t your usual GP.

Take care,

Northgate Village Surgery

Published on 12 May 2023