Gillingham Medical Practice is changing the way it is making appointments.
Here is their announcement:
We need your help…
We are looking toward a post-COVID future, whilst still expecting to be vaccinating
our community against COVID until the end of the year. As of 30th March, The Barn
Surgery will be undergoing extensive refurbishment requiring its temporary closure.
We are expecting this to last at least six months.
From April 14th, we are bringing in a better system of allocating appointments, with
the clinical team assigning the right type of appointment at the right time, based on
information from our patients.
Our goal is to produce the best possible system – Total Triage should mean that the
care you receive from us is delivered faster, more safely and of the best possible
We will ask you to help us by giving us some information about your symptoms, and
what you’re hoping we might be able to do to help. The easiest way for you to do this
is by completing an eConsult. If this is not possible, the next option is to answer
some simple triage questions with one of our Patient Services Administrators, to give
us the information we need to give you the right appointment. Our entire team
subscribe to the same very high standards of confidentiality.
We will not ever prevent anyone from receiving care – the goal is to deliver care that
FASTER – Total Triage with eConsult requires no waiting on the phone and will help
you avoid the rush for appointments when the phone lines open.
SAFER – Total Triage with eConsult highlights symptoms to us that could be
serious, and so reduces the risk of patients with these problems not being able to get
through to us on the phone.
BETTER – Under Total Triage, appointments will be allocated by clinicians, which
will allow us to make sure that we give you the right appointment at the right time
with the right clinician.
Our aim is to maintain continuity of care whenever possible. Continuity of care
means each patient ideally seeing the same, or a small team of doctors, rather than
lots of different doctors. We think this helps us to spot more easily when something
is seriously wrong, and helps us to help you make difficult decisions, if they come
Our fabulous team of Patient Services Administrators are key to implementing this
system, as the vital link between our community and our clinical team.
There are lots of other ways you can help us make this a success such as signing up
for online access via SystmOnline and using the NHS app.
Thank you for your continued support,
Katie Pearce (Practice Manager), Dr Lewis and Partners
Q and A’s
I don’t have access to email – does this mean I can’t receive care?
Please call us and speak with a member of our friendly Patient Services team. They will ask you some
simple triage questions, so that you can be given the right appointment with the right member of
Normally my relative or carer contacts the practice on my behalf – can they do this under Total
Absolutely. We are used to receiving eConsults or other contacts from patient’s representatives,
such as family, friends, carers or care home staff. In order to then disclose confidential information
we would need the patient’s consent on record.
I need to speak to a Doctor very urgently – what should I do?
Problems which could be life threatening are best managed by ringing 999, as they are likely to be
time critical and will need hospital care. Otherwise please complete an eConsult or speak to one of
our Patient Services Administrators.
Is there a best time of day to send in an eConsult?
The eConsults received through our Total Triage system will be monitored and actioned throughout
the day – what time you contact us will have no bearing on when we can see you. The experience of
fighting for an appointment at 8.30am or 2pm will be a thing of the past.
What do I do if I need medical advice at the weekend or evening?
This hasn’t changed. You can access eConsult to obtain lots of useful information, use the NHS app
or NHS 111 service., or ring 999 in an emergency.
When can I complete and send an eConsult?
You can complete an eConsult any time of the day or night, from first thing on a Monday morning
until 1830 on Friday evening.
How soon will I hear after sending my eConsult?
We will tell you how we’re going to respond within 24 hours, in terms of which team member will
help you, at what time and in what kind of appointment.
What if I don’t want to answer any questions, as I don’t feel comfortable giving my
details/symptoms to a receptionist?
Our Patient Services team subscribe to the same very high standards of confidentiality as our
medical staff and take pride in their role as a professional, highly trained link between our patients
and clinicians. Part of this role is the ability to empathise and respond accordingly when patients find
it uncomfortable to discuss their symptoms. We would not prevent access to our services in these
Won’t this make it harder to speak with my usual GP or discuss an existing condition?
One of the benefits of Total Triage is that it will help us re-instate continuity of care, after the
disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. You are more likely to see or speak to your usual GP under
Total Triage than at any other time.
How do you know that the Total Triage system will be beneficial?
Our colleagues in other Practices who have implemented a total Triage System give us assurance
that patients receive faster, safer care through having appointments with the right person in a timely
manner. The system has been carefully designed and analysed to make it more likely that we can
respond to more patients, and give us the best chance of being available if you’re really poorly.
If the COVID-19 vaccination programme is successful and cases fall – why can’t we expect GP
services to go back to how they were before?
New data has shown us that each day we aren’t receiving information from enough patients who
want our help. We don’t wish to continue like this. We have also been fighting for a number of years
to have our town centre site, The Barn Surgery, made fit for the future. For these reasons we wish to
start allocating appointments on the basis of clinician-led decision making, using information from
our patients about what they want us to help with.
Is the Barn Surgery shut indefinitely?
No! The necessary building works will take approximately 6 months. All patients will be seen at
Peacemarsh surgery during this time. We have secured additional consulting space at Peacemarsh to
make this work for our patients.
Does this apply to nursing appointments, injections, dressings or blood tests?
No – the simple rule is that if you would normally ask to see or speak to a GP or nurse practitioner,
then Total Triage will apply. For practice nurse or HCA appointments, please speak to one of our
Patient Services Administrators, who can book these in directly.
I didn’t have my usual annual review last year, due to COVID-19 restrictions. What should I do?
Please navigate to the option “Start a review,” at the bottom of the right hand column of options on
the eConsult page, then select “Medication Review.” Your GP will let reception know if you need a
blood test. If you cannot use eConsult, please contact our Patient Services Administrators.
Do I need to send an eConsult or answer triage questions to request my medications?
No – please use Systmonline, the NHS APP or your repeat prescription slip. Patients who are
housebound or suffering from certain disabilities can request their prescription over the telephone
between 3pm and 6pm.
Can I send you an email instead?
We don’t think that email is a safe system to receive medical queries – it is so easy to miss an email,
and email doesn’t highlight potentially serious symptoms in the way that eConsult does. eConsult, or
answering triage questions from our Patient Services Administrators, is so much safer that we would
ask you not to use email to contact the practice.
How do I complete an eConsult?
Please head to our website www.gillinghamsurgery.co.uk and click on “Consult your GP online,”
under Online Services, or click on “Online Consultation,” in the middle of the home page.
How can I find out more about eConsult?
https://econsult.net/nhs-patients gives a lot of useful information..