Book Appointment – How to, your options – the appointment system has changed

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How can you book an appointment?

Our appointment system has changed from 1 April 2023

Summary of the changes to the appointment system:

There are changes to our appointment system from 1 April 2023. There will be some benefits to the new system, but there will certainly also be negatives associated with it.

  • No more online bookable appointments
  • Increased signposting to other services
  • Booking of appointments based on need rather than want
  • A clinician can only assess the need for an appointment if the patient provides details of their problem

These changes were forced on primary care by the imposed GP contract changes, the second imposed contract changes in as many years.

At Grimethorpe Surgery, we work hard to do our best for our patients, provide safe care, and to continue to improve our services. It’s just not as easy as it all looks.

Want to know more? You can find more details here:

Every contact with the practice counts

Every contact you make with the practice should lead to an outcome, as per the government-imposed changes in the GP contract. If you need help, advice, etc, you can request this:

  • By phoning the surgery on 01226 706819 (Grimethorpe) or 01226 707110 (Cudworth). Please always provide a brief description of your problem to the receptionist so she can help you best. Our receptionists are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as all others in the practice
  • By using our online consultations platform for non-urgent medical and admin queries (fit note extensions, results, updates on referrals, etc):
  • By using the NHS App to access our online consultations platform
  • By using the NHS App or Patient Access to request your repeat prescriptions. You can download the NHS App by clicking on the App Store icon, or Google Play icon below. It’s easy to set up from your armchair without the need to get further permission from the surgery. All you need is a photo ID and your NHS number.
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Our receptionists can no longer book an appointment with a GP, ANP, or PA directly unless instructed to do so by a GP, ANP, or PA.

Instead, they will signpost you to the most appropriate person or service to help you with your problem

If signposting to other services is inappropriate, a patient’s appointment request will be forwarded to a triage clinician who will perform an assessment of need based on the information the patient has provided to the receptionist.

There are other services available that might be more suited and provide the right support/treatment options for you quicker by cutting out the middle man. Examples of these are:

  • The Community Pharmacy Consultation Scheme
  • The First Contact Physiotherapist
  • The Minor Eye Conditions Service
  • Improving Access to Psychological Therapies
  • Social Prescribing Link Workers

What other options are there instead of requesting an appointment with a GP?

  • At the surgery, you can also request an appointment with an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, who can offer most of the help a GP can, too. She however, does not deal with the following problems: pregnancy-related problems, children under the age of 1 year, smears (GPs don’t either). We also have a Physician Associate, who can also do many of the things GPs can. She also can’t deal with patients under the age of 1, and if a prescription is needed, she will need to ask a GP to sign the prescription for her.
  • The Community Pharmacy Consultation Scheme (CPCS), which can deal with several minor ailments. This service provides consultations in a private room with a pharmacist. Our receptionists can refer you to this service, and you will receive a phone call from the pharmacist to arrange an appointment to be seen (usually the same day). If you click on the link above, you will be able to see what problems a community pharmacist can help with. You will usually be seen quicker than when you request to see a GP. Booking these appointments can happen on the phone, or by coming to our reception.
  • The First Contact Physio (FCP), who can help you with your musculoskeletal problem quicker by cutting out the middle man (the GP). If you suffer with a musculoskeletal problem, our receptionists can book an appointment directly with the first contact physio, who is the expert on musculoskeletal problems. Often appointments are available the same day, or within a few days. You can book an appointment by phoning the surgery, or coming to reception. If you want to know more about the service, click the link above.
  • The Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS) is run by many local opticians, who can help with minor eye conditions and have specialised equipment a GP doesn’t have. They can refer to the hospital too if needed. This service is available from many different opticians, and they can deal with a variety of eye problems. They are better suited to deal with eye problems than a GP is, as their equipment is more specialised and they are the experts on eyes. If you want to know more and whether your problem would be suitable for this service, click on the link above for information about the service and local opticians taking part in this service. You can self-refer for this service and bypass the queues and busy phone lines at the surgery.
  • IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) self-referrals by cutting out the GP to access talking therapies. Suffering from depressive symptoms, anxiety, or other psychological problems? This may be the service for you. When you click on the link above, it will take you to the website for IAPT in Barnsley, with information on how to self-refer. Again, you may find a faster way to the appropriate help by contacting them instead of waiting for a GP appointment.
  • Social Prescribing (Link Works) referrals for people who have problems of a more social nature, like loneliness, money problems, low-grade mental health problems, managing symptoms, making social connections, work, volunteering, and activities, managing money and welfare issues, housing solutions, healthy lifestyles, and emotional wellbeing. This service is available to people of 14 or above. If you would like to receive a referral to this service, please speak to one of our receptionists, a healthcare assistant, nursing associate, nurse or a GP. Any of these people can refer you into this service. If you click on the link above, you can find out more about this service.

Any of the above may be more suitable for your problem than an appointment with a GP. For the above, you can find more information on our website, or you can come to reception to enquire further. Often same-day appointments are available within the above services, or the appointment is within a few days. Much better than having to wait several days for a GP appointment to then be referred to the more appropriate service, after all.

Don’t want to pay for your medication as advised by the pharmacy? Unfortunately, GPs are no longer allowed to prescribe medication that is available over the counter on an NHS prescription. You can find more about that in the self-care guidance issued by the NHS.

Can I ask for a brief reason for your appointment?

When you phone the surgery to request an appointment, the receptionist will ask you this or a similar question.

This isn’t because they are nosy!

Our receptionists are bound by the same rules of confidentiality as all other staff and doctors within the practice.

The reason our receptionists ask you for a reason is to get you the support needed from the person or service that is most suited to get your problem dealt with as quickly and well as possible. They have received training to signpost you to the specialist for your problem. Providing these details also helps the triage clinician to do an assessment of need.

Some examples:

  • If you have a toothache and ask for a GP appointment, this is not the best option for you. The GP has received no dental training, and you are far better served by an appointment with your dentist
  • If you have a shoulder problem, an appointment with a First Contact Physio may be more appropriate, as they are the experts on musculoskeletal problems and can get you the correct treatment quicker
  • If you have an eye problem, the Minor Eye Conditions Service at the optician may be the better option, as they are the expert on eyes and have specialised equipment. They can also refer to the hospital where appropriate
  • If you have mental health problems you may be better off with a self-referral to IAPT so you can access talking therapies quicker than by first requesting a GP appointment
  • If you request an appointment with a GP for a smear test, this will be a wasted appointment as GPs don’t perform smears, only our nurses do

It is your right to say to a receptionist that the issue is personal. However, please bear in mind that this may mean you get the help you need later than necessary as this makes it more difficult for the triage clinician to do an assessment of need.