A GP practice on the outskirts of Lincoln is launching a new method of processing patients next month in a bid to improve care.
Nettleham Medical Practice – part of NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group – will launched the new scheme on December 1st. This will see reception staff being renamed as Patient Care Advisors after receiving active signposting and care navigation training.
Senior staff at the practice believe the new system, which will see the Patient Care Advisors asking more questions of patients at the point of booking appointments, will enable them to make the most appropriate appointment with the right member of clinical staff depending on the patient’s condition.
Dr David Sheehan, a GP partner at the practice, said making sure patients are seen by the most appropriate member of staff is important for their health care.
He said: “This new process is about ensuring that patients are screened to see if they need clinical input or if a different member of the practice team could help them. Those needing to see a clinician are either booked an appointment with the most appropriate person within the practice, such as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner or a Practice Nurse, or signposted to an alternative service provider such as a community pharmacy.
“Not all medical conditions require being seen by the doctor, so by making sure the patient is seen promptly and by the correct clinical staff has huge benefits to the patient’s health but also to the system as a whole.
“Currently, a lot of a GP’s time can be taken up by seeing patients with conditions that do not warrant an appointment with a doctor and which could be dealt with by an alternative healthcare professional This would then free up an appointment with a GP for a patient who really needs it.
“We believe it will also help to increase the awareness of patients on how to treat minor conditions and illnesses themselves, as well as increasing their understanding of the local services available to support their health and wellbeing.”
Once the changes come into effect, patients who call or visit the practice seeking medical attention will be asked for more information about their health and care needs by one of the Patient Care Advisors.
This will help staff determine whether the patient needs to be seen by a member of the practice medical team or signposted to another service.
Helen Lunn, practice manager, said: “Our reception staff have undergone training to become Patient Care Advisors to enable them to know what questions to ask to be able to identify the best treatment pathway for the patient’s needs.
“It is important for patients to understand they are not being nosy and the information being asked for is very much in their best interests.
“The NHS and primary care is under pressure, so it is vital we look to relieve some of that wherever we can. Here at Nettleham, we believe a better streaming process is one of those ways by which we can free up more GP appointments for those who really need them and get other patients seen quicker by the most appropriate member of clinical staff.”