Oak Tree Health Centre, based in Didcot, Oxfordshire experienced the impact of GP Access taking effect just a month after introducing the new system. With a staff of 20, including four doctors, Oak Tree Health Centre is a medium sized practice, with a challenging case load supporting the needs of a demographic leaning heavily towards young families.
Mark Dalling, Business Manager of Oak Tree Health Centre, said: “There is a feeling that GPs are more in control. Whereas before, receptionists and GPs alike were unable to adequately meet the needs of patients requiring attention, it now feels as if we are on the path to doing the right thing each day for much more of our patients. Levels of staff satisfaction have risen significantly, due to our knowing that every patient has received the best possible attention from our healthcare team.”
Mark continued: “Oak Tree has been aware for some time that we have not always been able to provide access to a GP on the date and time of the patient’s choosing – this has led to understandable frustration. GP Access gives us this capability.”
“We have also been acutely aware that on occasion the most urgent cases that contact us on a given day, may not actually speak to or see their GP on that day. This is a concern regarding patient safety and we have had to look at an alternative system in which a GP contacts everyone who contacts us, and on the same day.
“With GP Access, patients are better served in most instances by ensuring that wherever possible there is continuity in the GP dealing with a specific condition. Our old system was not ideal in delivering this goal, whereas the new system can improve our levels of continuity. And our new way of working is so much more convenient for patients as many issues can be addressed by talking to a GP over the phone without the need to visit the Health Centre. This offers a far more convenient service to patients who do not have to factor in travelling times, extended time off from work and other potential inconveniences.”
Mark carries onto explain that GP Access requires careful introduction. “GP Access does require a considered step change, however it’s important not to over analyse or over plan! You will not get everything right at the outset no matter how much discussion and planning you do. It’s much better to get the basics in place, launch quickly, and then adapt and refine as you go. A major aspect which does need careful consideration is your GP resource profile, to understand where your daily and weekly high and low spots are, and then plan for them.”
Mark advises: “Keep your system flexible! Remember that the GP Access approach is a concept; not a rule book – each practice must implement an approach that is right for them.”