What Happens to These Engage Consult Requests?
All the requests, whether put through directly or via our patient services team, come through to our triage team to assess. The triage team is made up of 1 or 2 GPs and a care navigator (non-clinician but trained in directing appointment requests). Almost every appointment request gets reviewed by a GP. All requests are reviewed in conjunction with your medical records.
The team will try and allocate you the most appropriate appointment for your condition. You should then be sent a message on Engage Consult informing you of the outcome of your request. Most patients will receive a same day appointment which starts with a phone appointment, with a same day examination arranged if needed.
What is triage?
Every day we receive requests for help or advice through patients calling in, walking in, and now also online via online consultations. For each patient request, the practice needs to work out:
- Why they have sought help from their GP
- What kind of help the patient needs
- How quickly the patient needs help
- Who is the best person to help this patient
- Where and when the patient should be seen
The answers to these questions help the practice to sort patients based on their needs. This process is called triage. Triaging is essential when you are dealing with hundreds of patients a day, all with different needs, requests, and health backgrounds.
Why is triage important?
General Practice has been through a transformation in the last 10 years with practices strongly incentivised to expand and diversify their workforce to include several allied health professionals as well as GPs and nurses. This means the options for which type of clinician to see have expanded enormously and so making the correct choice for the most appropriate clinician/service is more difficult, even for those experienced at navigating the healthcare system. Therefore, we put the GP at the heart of the triage process as the most senior clinician to ensure that patients get the right appointment first time as often as possible.
I requested a GP appointment but I’ve been booked with another clinician. Why?
- Numbers of full time equivalent (FTE) GPs across the UK are falling, and the patient population is growing. There is simply not the capacity to meet the demand for every patient to consult with a GP. Please see BMA Advice on the Pressures in General Practice for more information (www.bma.org.uk)
- We now employ a number of allied health professionals who are experts in their field and may have greater depth of knowledge than GPs in certain areas, so it is more appropriate for you to be booked with them
- Your condition relates to a problem which is best dealt with by someone outside of the practice, such as a Community Pharmacist, Dentist, Optician etc.
- Your condition has been deemed too urgent and more appropriate for hospital care such as A+E/Minor Injuries Unit
OK, so tell me a bit more about these other healthcare professionals at the Practice
Below is a summary of the different healthcare professionals we employ and the conditions they treat:
- MIND mental health team – offer support and guidance to adults with mild to moderate mental health difficulties
- Mental Health Practitioner – specialist nurse who can assess/support adults with severe mental illness
- Diagnostic physiotherapists – diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal problems
- Clinical Pharmacists – medication reviews, management of high blood pressure and heart disease, minor ailments
- Advanced Nurse Practitioner/Paramedic – adults and children over 3yrs old with minor illnesses such as cough/sore throat/earache/rashes
- Physician Associate – learning disability annual reviews, mother and baby checks, minor illness including young children, general health problems
- Social Prescribing Link Workers – support with psycho-social problems, health coaching, signposting to other agencies
- Nurses – dressing, contraceptive checks, long term condition management, immunisations, travel
- Healthcare Assistants – taking blood, physical health checks e.g., blood pressure, ECGs
- GPs trainees – fully qualified doctors who are coming out of hospital to train to work in General Practice
- GPs – general medical conditions, acute and long-term care, support, and supervision for other healthcare staff in Practice
Hopefully you can now see why a triage process is so important as picking the most appropriate clinician is not always straight forward!
What about services outside the practice I’ve been directed to?
There are several services which patients can access directly without a referral from a GP:
- Oxfordshire Minor Eye Conditions Service (oxfordshireloc.org.uk/mecs) - free NHS service run by highly trained opticians to assess and treat several eye conditions. Suitable for adults and children over the age of 6
- Eye Casualty (www.ouh.nhs.uk/eye-hospital) - for eye emergencies
- Community Pharmacy (www.whmp.co.uk/nhs-community-pharmacist-consultation-service)– as well as being able to get advice directly there is now also a national scheme running which allows us to refer you for a consultation with a community pharmacist, suitable for minor ailments
- Connect Health (www.connecthealth.co.uk) – for physiotherapy treatment, supports multiple appointments rather than the one off assessment we offer in the surgery
- Talking Space Plus (www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/talkingspaceplus) – psychological treatment e.g. CBT for common mental health conditions
- CAMHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/camhs) – assess and support under 18s with mental health difficulties
- Midwife – provide all routine antenatal care, appointments can be booked directly calling 01865 904832
- Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit (www.ouh.nhs.uk) – for patients experiencing pain or bleeding in early pregnancy
- 111 (111.nhs.uk) – offers lots of general health advice for all ages either on phone/online, also can be used outside surgery hours