We are changing our patient services

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Upcoming Changes at Lancaster Medical Practice

From 6th September we will be making some changes to the way we triage our patients and arrange appointments.

Over the past months, we have received lots of feedback from our patients – particularly regarding difficulties contacting the practice via telephone and a lack of appointment availability. In response to these concerns, we have been working on a number of measures that will change the way we work as a practice.

The development of these measures began before the COVID-19 pandemic, however due to the changes the pandemic instilled on us and the increased workload our staff have faced, we disappointingly had to put this work on hold.  The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on general practice cannot be understated, however as restrictions are lifting and demand for GP services has risen to an unprecedented level, we have worked hard over the last few months to bring these changes to reality. So far we have introduced a number of measures that are working to improve our services including reopening our Meadowside site, providing additional clinical space at our University site, and reintroducing myGP call back slots.

We also want to use these upcoming changes an opportunity to improve the care that the patients of LMP receive, by making sure that they see the most appropriate clinician for their needs and improving continuity of care. The practice now has a wide range of specialised clinicians including pharmacists, paramedics, mental health practitioners, first contact physiotherapists and advanced clinical practitioners. All of these professions have different skills, and are more equipped to treat certain conditions than our other clinicians – so making sure you see the right person means your care will be more efficient and of a higher standard. Our patient services staff are equipped with the tools to make sure that you follow the right path to see the person who is best suited to treat you.

Changes to Patient Services

No action will be required from you as a patient as a result of our new system, however you may have a slightly different experience when you contact the practice.

The following is how the new system will work from the point of view of our patients:

Step 1

There will now be three options for our patients to get in touch with the practice:

  • via telephone;
  • via our new online service: Online Consult; (this will launch from Monday 6th September and will be accessible via our website, or the Patient Access app);
  • or in person at one of our ‘Amber’ sites

Step 2

Whichever option you choose from step 1, you will follow the same process in creating a ‘patient recorded information summary’. This allows us to gather the key information from your query – both medical and administrative. We will gather this information using the same questions, regardless of how you made contact with us – this makes sure that all the information we collect is consistent.

Step 3

If you are contacting us via Online Consult, then at this point you may be directed to a different service other than ourselves; or advised that self-care is the best way treatment for you. Likewise, when calling the practice, you may be signposted to other services before or during your triage.

If it is determined that we are the best equipped to deal with your query, then you will be triaged by our patient services team to see whether you need urgent care, a routine appointment or need to be seen at home.

Step 4

Once it has been determined which of these three types of care you need, you will be passed on to a member of our patient services team specialised in that area. This second level of triage is to gain more understanding of your needs, so that we can direct you to the most appropriate clinician.

There is still the possibility that you will be signposted elsewhere at this stage. This is to make sure all of our patients are receiving the most appropriate treatment and to reduce unnecessary appointments – meaning everyone is seen quicker when they need to be.

Step 5

An appointment will then be made if this is decided to be the best outcome.

The whole practice team has been training for the new way of working, preparing for the start of 6th September. However, all of our patients should be aware that there may be some teething problems as our staff find their footing with the new system – so we will be asking everyone to bear with us during this time.

Online Consult

We are very excited to let you know that alongside the changes to our appointment system, we will be introducing our new online service: Online Consult. This will introduce a new way for patients to get in contact with us, and hopefully will mean a reduced wait time for those patients who still want to contact us via telephone. You will be able to access the service via the link on our website, and also the Patient Access website/app.

Online Consult provides a ‘digital front door’ to the practice by guiding you through a series of questions to determine what your query is (both administrative and medical), and what the next steps should be. This could be a number of different local services, self-help advice and support, or your GP practice. Not only does this provide an alternative to calling the practice, but also relieves some of the pressure on our services by reducing the number unnecessary appointments. This means you will be seen quicker when you need to be. The service also gives you access to a wealth of clinically approved, GP-authored content that covers 91 topics and includes over 200 videos.

It’s important to be aware, however, that Online Consult does not allow you to book into an appointment directly. Instead, if general practice is the most appropriate option for you, we will be notified and one of our team will give you a call in the timeframe shown on screen.

It was also very important to us when deciding on our new online services that urgent issues are not missed. Online Consult makes sure that any potentially urgent conditions are discovered quickly and directed appropriately.

Once you have completed the forms, we will have access to all the information you provided and so we can easily determine the most appropriate clinician or team member to help you.

Online Consult is the only e-consultation solution in the UK to hold the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) CE mark – a distinction that’s recommended by the British Medical Association (BMA).