GPs act to tackle waiting times

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Rutland MP Alan Duncan has backed a new appointment system at a doctors’ surgery which will make it easier for patients to get appointments.

Oakham Medical Practice, is changing its appointment system from Monday, November 19. The Uppingham Surgery has already trialled the scheme part-time and will roll it out full-time in December.

At the moment patients call the Oakham practice for an appointment and if it is not an emergency, could face a wait of up to 10 days before they see one of the practice’s 12 full and part-time GPs.

Under the new system, patients will call the surgery the day they want an appointment and get a call back from a doctor, who will then either diagnose the problem over the phone or make an appointment at a time to suit the patient.

People phoning with an emergency will be prioritised for a call back.

Practice director Don McGeorge said the new system was being adopted in response after patients said it was difficult to get an appointment at a time they wanted.

He said: “We want to use our resources more efficiently and by adopting this method, it reduces the amount of time the doctor spends with the patient because they have already discussed the matter over the phone and some people won’t need to come into the surgery at all.”

Rutland MP Alan Duncan said: “The surgery cares for a huge and increasing number of patients and this is a cost-effective, sensible and smart way to deal with cases more swiftly and effectively.”

Representatives from the surgery have also met Rutland County Council, Oakham Town Council and health watchdog group Rutland Link. The practice’s patients’ participation group has also been consulted.

Rutland Link chairman Kathy Reynolds said: “In theory I think the change of system should be a positive move. I have seen the results from where other practices have made the move and it has been positive, so I hope it will be equally well-received in Oakham.

“Rutland Link carried out a survey in the summer about GP practices and I would say there was a significant proportion of disappointment about the length of time it took to get an appointment.

“Hopefully the move at Oakham and indeed Uppingham will have positive benefits and improve that situation.”