General Practice is not a 'walk-in' service and consultations are by appointment only.
Approx 35% of appointments with the GP's are pre-bookable in advance and the remainder are reserved for people who ring on the day because they feel they need see a GP.
Pre-bookable appointments are usually released three or four weeks ahead of the appointment date and they get booked by patients when they become available. These can be booked face to face or over the phone, as well as online for those who have signed up to the online services.
There are a limited amount of appointments on any given day so if we made more of them 'pre-bookable' there wouldn't be enough for the people who ring on the day to be seen. And vice-versa,
The system is finely balanced and on the whole it works well but every day can be different and many factors affect demand on any given day. Sometimes (not often) we end up with unused capacity and some days we run of out appointments.
If we find that we have run out of appointments on any given day and you believe your condition is such that you need to be seen that day then you will be given the opportunity for an 'extra' appointment. The receptionists sometimes refer to these as 'sit and wait' appointments. Essentially this is an overflow system which we deploy when the demand to see the doctors on the day exceeds our available capacity.
You won't be able to see your preferred doctor as these appointments are allocated across each of the doctors in turn so that the extra work is shared evenly. However you will be seen if you feel your condition requires it.
Each appointment represents workload over and above the scheduled amount and it means that the GP will be delayed in carrying out other aspects of their work such as home visits, telephone calls, signing prescriptions requests, reviewing incoming clinical correspondence and so on.
Many surgeries nowadays will direct patients to other services such as walk-in centres when their capacity is used up. We feel that it is important that patients with a clinical need are seen at the surgery and at current levels of demand it is something we want to continue to do.
The Receptionist will ask you to come to the surgery at a specific time but there may be a wait if the doctor's scheduled surgery has over-run or if they have several 'extras' to see on that day.
Each doctor has a number of telephone appointments each day which are pre-bookable. A telephone appointment can be a convenient way of getting advice about a condition. Due to the nature of a doctors working day it isn't possible to give an exact time for a telephone call. Most of our GPs will try to do them after morning surgery has finished. Make sure you leave the number that you want to be contacted on.
Messages for the Doctor
Our receptionists are not trained to make clinical judgements but they are an effective way of communicating information from the doctors. Often the doctor will ask the receptionist to pass on a message to a patient as this is a more effective use of their time.
The surgery has an on-call doctor each day . You might sometimes hear them referred to as the duty doctor. The role of the duty doctor is to assess and treat people with an urgent need on the day. You might be offered a telephone consultation with the doctor first so they can assess if you need to come to the surgery. The duty doctors list is on the day is operated on a triage basis dealing with each case as it arises. If you are more than 10-15 minutes away from the surgery the receptionist is likely to ask you to call back when you are closer so she can add you to the list.
The duty doctor's surgery is unpredictable by its nature and sometimes the GP has to go and see a patient at their home. For this reason you might experience a longer wait than at a normal appointment.
There are many different ways of booking appointments:
In person at the reception desk
The clinician might book a follow up appointment for you
On-the-day appointments are made available from 8:30 am each day. They are released to people calling on the phone at exactly the same time as to people waiting at the reception desk. We usually have six receptionists taking calls at 8:30 am so do not be deterred if the phone system tells you that you are in a long queue. Every call will be answered and most calls at that time of day are quite short. When you book an appointment over the telephone, the receptionist will ask you what the appointment is regarding. We understand this may not be something you wish to disclose, but this information is used to provide you with the best possible care. They may even be able to help you without you needing to see a GP.
If you cannot attend an appointment for any reason please inform us as soon as possible in order for us to give the slot to someone else. This can be done even when we are closed by following the instructions on your SMS appointment reminder. Many appointments are wasted every week because patients don't come to the surgery.
Unfortunately we aren't able to offer any kind of waiting-list system for patients wanting to be contacted when an appointment is cancelled. Our clinical system doesn't support it and with so many doctors and nurses and a large reception team it would be impossible to run any kind of manual system which would be fair to patients.
Click here to find out more about non-attendance
Arriving Late for your Appointment
In common with the vast majority of GP surgeries around the country we operate a ten-minute threshold for patients arriving late. If you arrive more than ten minutes after your appointment time the Receptionists will check with the clinician and it is up to them whether they can see you or whether you need to re-book.
The doctors and nurses have a lot of work to do after they finish seeing patients and only they know if they can accommodate someone who is late without adversely affecting their ability to complete all their other patient work safely.
We ask that you respect this process and make every effort to be on-time.
It always helps if you ring ahead to let us know you are going to be late.