How can I see my GP?

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We are aware that people are having some problems getting through to their GP at the moment and we know this can be frustrating.

We are seeing more demand for appointments than ever. In 2021 in Milton Keynes alone we saw a 45% increase in the number of calls to GP surgeries compared to pre-pandemic levels.

GP surgeries are adding more than 1,000 extra appointments each year, but we’re taking further steps to tackle this.

How can I help my GP surgery?

  • Self-care or use pharmacy services as a first step when you feel unwell
  • Register to use the GP surgery’s electronic consultation platform or the NHS App for repeat prescriptions and test results
  • Be patient, be polite and be kind – our staff are working as hard as they can

Can I still see a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional face-to-face?

Yes, face-to-face appointments with GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals will take place if there is an identified need.  Based on national figures, our 95 practices collectively provide some of the highest percentage of face-to-face appointments across England. 

Telephone or video consultations will be offered as a clinically safe option where this is the right thing to do. These types of consultations help reduce the risk of Covid-19 and flu being spread to other people.

Why am I being given a telephone appointment?

Most surgeries will call all patients first and then offer face-to-face appointments based on these discussions.  This allows practice staff to triage patients based on clinical need, allowing clinicians to work more efficiently and be able to support more people. 

We ask that you be patient with this ‘new system’ and be assured that those needing to be seen in person will get offered a face-to-face appointment if and when needed.

What is triage?

Patients contacting their GP surgery are asked to provide information to the reception team about the reasons for their contact. This is so they can assess who you need to see and the type of consultation:

  • telephone
  • e-mail or video consultations
  • referrals to external services
  • or if clinically appropriate, a face-to-face appointment.

What can I go to my pharmacy for?

Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns. They can answer your questions on prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

All pharmacies provide the following services:

  • dispensing of NHS prescriptions
  • access to the repeat prescription service (with agreement from your GP)
  • an emergency supply of medicine, subject to the decision of the pharmacist (you may need to pay for an emergency supply)
  • non-prescription medicines like paracetamol
  • disposal of unwanted or out-of-date medicines
  • advice on treating minor health concerns and healthy living

They can also help with things like:

  • inhaler technique
  • how to take a medicine safely
  • helping you understand the correct dose of a new medicine and how often you need to take it

What do I do if I have trouble getting through on the telephone?

Some GP surgeries within Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes are installing an advanced telephone system with more to go live over the coming months.

Where this new service is installed, patients can access help or advice by completing a confidential online consultation form through the GP surgery website.  This saves time waiting to get through on the telephone.

Electronic consultation platforms also allow patients to access information on health conditions, self-care and local pharmacy services. Patients can also register for an online account with their GP surgery to order medication, view their patient record or see test results using the practice website or the NHS App.

Using these online platforms will help free up phone lines for patients not able to go online.

What we are doing

We are recruiting practitioners from different disciplines to boost our workforce. These roles include physiotherapists, mental health practitioners, podiatrists, dieticians, physician associates, paramedics and phlebotomists.

We are training new staff to work in GP surgeries, but this takes time from our experienced workforce.

We are upgrading telephone systems to cope with the level of calls being received to help make it easier for patients to get through.

We are working hard to recruit more administrative staff, but this is proving difficult because of the pressures of the role and pay rates available for less stressful jobs.

We are improving performance through monitoring which helps identify surgeries that need extra support and action plans to improve the most significant access challenges.

We are holding clinically-led webinars and training to share best practice.

We are improving the digital offer to enable patients to access their test results via the App.

GP Patient Surveys help to inform our approach to improving access.

We are locally developing the GP Community Pharmacy Consultation Service which enables NHS111 and GP surgeries to book patient consultations with trained pharmacists for some health conditions.

For more information about How to Access your GP remotely, online consultations and the different types of appointments, please visit our Accessing Your GP web pages.

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