Bury’s General Practices are reminding patients how to get in touch and what to expect, as demand for appointments significantly increases by up to a third.

Whether patients get in touch via online services such as askmyGP, on the phone or call into the Practice to speak with reception, Practice teams are working incredibly hard to respond to all patient contacts as quickly as possible.

All enquiries are clinically assessed on the same day with the most urgent cases prioritised, and where appropriate face to face appointments are offered to patients.

However, with demand for appointments on the rise, patients with less urgent needs may have to wait a little longer and for some health concerns, patients may be signposted to other options or services, such as a community pharmacy or self-care, if this is more appropriate for their need.

Online platforms such as askmyGP have become very popular with patients, proving quick and convenient for many health concerns that can be resolved quickly, often without having to come into the Practice.  Online services also help to free up  telephone capacity for patients that prefer this option.

However, the popularity of online services to submit any type of health related enquiry, and the numbers of enquiries being received every day, means that the system can quickly reach its capacity.  On some occasions patients may feel they are not getting access to the services they need.

During busy periods patients are reminded that online services are just one of the ways to contact their Practice.

Patients can still contact their Practice on the phone on surgery days between 8am and 6.30pm, although current demand may mean there is a wait to have a call answered. In addition, surgery doors are open for anyone that needs to or would prefer to speak in person with the receptionist.

Many requests via online services are for repeat prescriptions, which can be conveniently ordered via the NHS App for those with access to this facility.   Patients are also being reminded that NHS 111 is available online or on the phone 24 hours a day, for urgent medical problems when you’re not sure what to do.

Dr. Cathy Fines, local GP and Chair for NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“It continues to be extremely busy in General Practice and our teams are doing their best to ensure patients have access to services in a timely and appropriate way.

“The sheer demand for care at this time does mean that online services become full to capacity sooner than we would all want.  We want to remind people that online access is just one way to connect with their Practice, we are also available on the phone and our doors are open should anyone need to speak with reception during surgery hours.

“Those with the greatest clinical need are seen more quickly, where needed this will be face to face, ensuring fairer access to services for all patients. However, due to the increase in demand for services overall, this may mean that some patients with a less urgent need have to wait a little longer than they would hope and other patients may be signposted to alternative options, such as their community pharmacy, if this is more appropriate to meet their need.”

For anyone that hasn’t contacted their Practice in a while, they may be surprised that a greater skill mix of staff is now available meaning that a GP may not be the most appropriate clinician to meet a patient’s needs.

Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacists, Paramedics, Physiotherapists and Mental Health Practitioners are just some of the professionals now working within General Practice teams across Bury.  A patient’s needs are matched to the most appropriate clinician to get them the advice, support and care they need in the shortest possible time.

Dr. Fines continued:

“Things have moved on quite a bit in General Practice and patients that need an appointment may be surprised to be offered one with a Nurse Practitioner, Pharmacist, or even a Physiotherapist or Community Paramedic, this very much depends on their clinical need.

“Gone are the days of an appointment immediately being offered with a GP.  Patients who require an appointment are now matched with the most appropriate highly skilled clinician to meet their needs at that time, meaning everyone will get access to the right care for them in the timeliest way possible.”

Patients are encouraged to consider all health and care options to get the most appropriate care in the quickest time, this might include:

  • Patients wanting to order a repeat prescription can request this via the NHS App.
  • www.NHS.uk a complete guide to conditions, symptoms and treatments, including what to do and when to get help.
  • Community Pharmacies can offer clinical advice and over the counter medicines for a range of minor conditions.
  • NHS 111 online 24/7 or on the phone (dial 111), for urgent medical problems when you’re not sure what to do. You’ll be signposted to or connected with the most appropriate service for your needs.
  • Patients seeking support whilst they wait for hospital treatment have access to the While You Wait website.
  • The Bury Directory has information about services, activities and events right across Bury.