Signposting when you call the surgery

Dear Patients

In recent days there has been a great deal of publicity about general practice and their desire to avoid seeing patients; this isn’t the case.

Our reception team are coming under a great deal of pressure from some patients and we see a need to clarify what happens when you speak to a member of our reception team.

Our reception team are experts at ‘signposting’. They don’t direct you elsewhere so that we can avoid seeing you. Our reception team will ask what the problem is, no matter why you want an appointment. They aren’t nosey, and they’ve undoubtedly heard it all before. They ask you about your problem because they want you to have the most appropriate appointment in the quickest time possible. If you’re telling us that you have severe chest pain, we don’t want you waiting a few hours to see us; we want you to call 999. This happens more frequently than you might think, and often our reception team will call 999 to get help to you, because of the symptoms you mention.

You might want to see your usual GP because you like them; you’ve been seeing them for the last 20 years. But if you want advice about an area in which we have a GP with a specialist interest, you might get an answer more quickly if you see them.

Sometimes you might want to see a GP for something that one of our nurses does routinely. Our nurse might have availability this week, but you might need to wait two weeks for a non-urgent appointment with your GP.

We’re encouraged to send people with a cold, diarrhoea or other minor ailments to the pharmacy. Again, this isn’t because we don’t want to see you; this is because having minor ailments dealt with at the pharmacy means we have more appointments available to deal with suspected cancers, mental health problems and chronic conditions.

In short, each one of our team became part of the NHS family because we want to help our patients, so please don’t feel that we don’t want to see you. Sometimes we can get a quicker, more appropriate result for you by asking you to see someone who isn’t your usual GP.