A doctors’ surgery is introducing a new system which it says will make it easier for its 16,000 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 to complaints from patients who said it was difficult to get an appointment at a time they wanted.
He said: “We have been looking at ways of changing the system to make it more patient friendly for three or four years and most practices these days will struggle for appointments to see the doctor that day or the next day.
“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.
“We see this change as a very positive move.”
Mr McGeorge said the doctor would “always err on the side of caution” when deciding whether an appointment was necessary and would make appointments if the patients still wished to come in.
He said it would also mean there was not a “telephone jam” at 8.30am because people could phone at any time of the day and still be guaranteed to speak to a doctor.
People wishing to see a nurse would continue to make an appointment by calling the surgery.
Patients would still be able to drop into the practice but would be dealt with by a doctor after those who had telephoned earlier.
Rutland MP Alan Duncan has held a meeting with the GPs and said he backed the new system.
Mr 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 and Mr McGeorge said the change had been “well-received”.
The Uppingham Surgery in London Road, has been running the system in the afternoons since July and says it has been a success. It will be rolling it out full-time from December.
Practice manager Rob Lynch said: “We have found that it makes more appointments available and it relieves stress for everyone.”
The Uppingham Surgery, which has 10,000 patients, has also held a public meeting on its plans to relocate to the National Farmers’ Union building in Ayston Road.
The move will be considered by the primary care trust panel on November 5.