As a practice we are aware that there has been a big change in the way you, as our patients, are able to access our service over the past year. We appreciate your understanding and patience through this time of change and wanted to write to give you an update on the latest news and best ways to access our service.
How your practice is currently working
In the advent of the pandemic in March 2020, we, and most other GP practices, moved to a “total triage” model. This involves getting in touch with us, explaining to our care navigators (reception team, who are bound by our confidentiality policy) what your problem is and then being directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional to deal with your problem. This was introduced across the country to protect both you, our patients, and our staff. We appreciate that this is a big change from our previous “open surgery” which we used to operate, which was clearly not safe during the current pandemic (due to the large numbers of people in our waiting rooms), but also made care navigation almost impossible. Care navigation allows:
- You to have your problem dealt with by the most appropriate and best qualified healthcare professional, and
- Reduces waiting times for GP appointments
Here are some of the healthcare professionals you may be directed to, depending on your problem:
- First Contact Practitioner (FCP) physio
- Clinical pharmacist
- Practice nurse
- Healthcare assistant
- General Practitioner (GP)
- Minor ailments scheme at a local pharmacy
- Minor eye conditions service (CUES/MECS) at local optician
Our nursing team are continuing to operate face to face appointments, allowing our patients with long term conditions to be monitored as they were pre-pandemic.
The main building at Feldon Lane surgery is currently being used as the Covid vaccination site for the Halesowen Primary Care Network so on vaccination days, the surgery is operating out of Hawne Lane surgery as normal, but also out of the extra building at the rear of the car park at Feldon Lane.
How GP appointments are currently working
If we feel your problem would be best dealt with by a GP, you will be offered a telephone appointment with a GP. If you are calling about a previous problem which does not need on the day attention, you will be offered a call with the GP who has been dealing with your problem. If the problem is new or needs dealing with more urgently, you will be offered an on the day telephone appointment, provided you have contacted us early enough on that day and we have availability.
We are using a number of different ways to consult with our patients at present including telephone, video, photographs, eConsulting (via our website – see section “How to access help for your health condition” below) and face to face.
Following a telephone appointment, you will be offered a face to face appointment if this is deemed clinically needed and appropriate by the GP. If your problem can be dealt with on the telephone without the need for a face to face appointment then this will be done safely and effectively over the telephone. This is often a more efficient use of both yours and our time, allowing us more time to deal with more patients. We are seeing patients face to face, on a regular basis, and if you clinically need to be seen face to face or if following discussion with a GP it is thought to be the best option, then you will be offered an in person appointment.
How to access help for your health condition
You can get in touch with us by using our website (www.feldonpractice.co.uk) to submit your query, whether that be for a new medical problem, requesting a follow up, requesting medication, to change your details, register as a new patient or general enquiries. We have also recently started using this for pre-appointment questionnaires prior to long term condition annual reviews. This is the easiest and quickest way to access our team.
Should you be unable to access us via the website then you can call us between 8am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday, where our reception team will be happy to help you with your query.
We would advise that you submit a form by 8am (or call at 8am) if you feel you need to access a healthcare professional the same day and then you can be directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional. If this were to be a GP, submitting your query early will allow a better chance of a GP being able to call you back the same day.
If you feel your problem does not need to be dealt with the same day then please call us after 10am as our phones are very busy before this time dealing with urgent appointment requests.
How our service will continue to operate
We want to reassure you that we are open and have been open throughout the pandemic. Reception is open and has been open since the pandemic began but due to our small waiting rooms we have had to install an intercom system on our surgery doors to ensure reception staff can control the flow of people into the buildings. We need to ensure that we can implement social distancing in our buildings to protect our patients and our staff. This may mean you have to wait a short time outside while our staff deal with your query or if our waiting room is full. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.
Following telephone appointments we assess whether a face to face appointment is needed clinically and also consider the preference of the patient. However, currently we do not have the capacity in the surgery to allow all patients to have appointments face to face. To operate in this way would mean spacing appointments out through the day to allow social distancing, which unfortunately is not possible. As previously mentioned, Feldon Lane surgery is being used as a vaccination site for the Halesowen Primary Care Network Covid vaccination programme. This has put a great strain on our building capacity, whilst still trying to house our GPs, nurses, midwife, FCP and administration team.
We feel we are offering relevant appointments, safely and effectively, to the patients we are treating; offering face to face appointments when this is necessary. Therefore, we will continue to operate in the same way at present and will re-evaluate this following the end of the Halesowen PCN’s involvement in the vaccination programme (late summer/autumn).
Ways you can help us to help you
- For minor ailments, use the NHS website or a local pharmacy to provide self help in the first instance
- Use our website to get in touch if at all possible – this will help congestion on our phone lines and allow those who are unable to use the internet to use the phone lines
- Accept offers of appointments with allied healthcare professionals – often they can provide a better service in their area of expertise
- Accept offers of follow up appointments for your problem if it is not urgent for that day – your appointment may be a week or two away
- Contact us early if you feel you need help on the day, but
- If your problem is not urgent, please try to avoid contacting us on busy days (Mondays and Fridays) and at busy times (when the phone lines open at 8am)
We’d like to thank you once again for your understanding in the changes we have made to our systems. We hope this information allows you to better understand how to access the surgery and to gain help for your health conditions. If you are concerned about your health, please do get in touch so that we can help you.
Drs Lewis, Mandiratta and Fox
GP Partners, Feldon Practice