Appointments

We are changing the way you can book an appointment to improve appointment availability and also to help avoid long queues on our telephone lines.  Our new appointment system is an ‘on the day system’ for appointments with GP’s (General Practitioner’s) and Allied Health Professionals*.  Nurse and HCA appointments can still be booked in advance.

This means if you need to speak to a GP or Allied Health Professional then you will need to call us on the day you are available for an appointment – before 11am.   You will be given a telephone appointment and during this call, if the clinician feels they need to see you face to face, they will let you know.

Please do not call the surgery for anything other than an on the day appointment before 11am.  This will help keep the phone lines free for appointment booking requests only.

There are no changes to the nursing appointment systems and these appointments can continue to be booked in advance, but please call us after 2pm if possible to book.

In summary:

  • Appointments at BCHC to move to an on the day system.
  • Please call before 11am for a same day appointment.
  • Try to call on a day when your GP is working (see website).
  • Please let the call centre know your symptoms.
  • Nursing and HCA appointments can still be booked in advance, but please call after 2pm to book.
  • Please call after 2pm for all other requests (e.g. sick notes, test results, general enquiries etc.)

 

* Allied Health Professionals are Nurses (referred to as either Nurse Practitioners or Advanced Nurse Practitioners), Paramedics, Physiotherapists and Mental Health Nurses who have had advanced training to enable them to diagnose and treat illnesses or concerns without the need to see a GP first.  We also have Pharmacists who can deal expertly with medication queries as well as being trained in areas like high blood pressure and arthritis care.  In addition we have a team of Social Prescribers and who can deal with social problem, loneliness, access to local community services etc. and a Health and Wellbeing Coach who can help you achieve your health related goals.

We are very grateful to all our patients for your continued support

How to Get the Appointment You Need

How to book an appointment depends on who you need to see. 

Appointments with our Nurses or Health Care Assistants.  These can be booked in advance.  Please phone after 2pm in the afternoon if possible as this keeps our phone lines free in the mornings for book on the day appointments with GP’s and Allied Health Professional and helps to spread calls across the day, avoiding large queues.  You would book one of these appointments for things like (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Immunisations and vaccinations (but not the COVID Vaccination).
  • Injections e.g. B12, zoladex.
  • ECG’s
  • Wound care, dressings and suture removal.
  • Long term conditions reviews e.g. Diabetes, COPD, Asthma and CHD.
  • Blood Tests (if you have been requested to have one by your GP, or if you have regular blood tests linked to medication).
  • NHS Health Checks.
  • Cytology (smears).
  • Contraception reviews.
  • Blood pressure, weight and height checks.

Appointments with our Nurses and HCA’s are mainly face to face.Some long term conditions reviews are carried out via a telephone appointment.If your appointment is on the telephone, the Call Centre staff will inform you.Most face to face appointments will take place at South Bar House, but some appointments will be at Bridge Street.Again you will be informed when booking your appointment.

Appointments with our GP’s and Allied Health Professionals.  If you have a new illness or concern or you need a review for an existing illness or concern, then you will need to book an appointment with one of our GP’s or Allied Health Professional. 

These appointments are book on the day only and will be carried out via the telephone.  We are operating a book on the day system due to the very high levels of demand that we are experiencing.  We are following NHS guidelines to help prevent the spread of infection, for example Covid 19, by only inviting patients into the practice if it is necessary.  Many problems can be dealt with on the telephone, often with the help of photos or video calls.  If the clinician thinks it is necessary to see you face to face, e.g. for an examination, then they will book this appointment for you.  Please book your telephone appointment on a day when you will be available to come in for a face to face appointment if you think this might be necessary.

We want to stop the “8am rush” which leads to huge queues on the telephone system, so we are hoping that if you phone us before 11am for a book on the day appointment, you will be able to speak to an appropriate clinician on the same day. 

We would like patients to have their care co-ordinated by their named GP so that they can develop an excellent working relationship together over time.  We know that this is good for both the patients and the doctors.  If you have a ‘simple’ medical problem then seeing any clinician is absolutely fine; but for ongoing conditions it often helps to see the same person.  So before ringing, please check our website to see which day your GP usually works (every patient has a Named GP – if you don’t know who this is, our Call Centre team will able to tell you when you ring to book an appointment).  If continuity is needed we will aim to book your appointment with your GP, and if this is not possible we will aim to book with your GP’s buddy.  We operate a buddy system which provides cover across the week to improve continuity of care for patients. 

You can still request a different GP to your named GP, for example you may want an intimate examination with a same sex GP.  Just explain this to the Call Centre and they will be happy to help.

You will not be given a specific time for your telephone call, so please keep your phone with you or tell us the time you are available / not available.  If you only have a landline, you can specify a timeframe when you will be in to take the call.

Some concerns are better dealt with by Allied Health Professionals, for example minor illness, musculoskeletal (e.g. bad backs, joint pain) and mental health issues will be booked with the appropriate member of our team which includes; Nurse Practitioners; Paramedic Practitioners; First Contact Physiotherapists; Pharmacists; Mental Health Nurses; Social Prescribers and Health and Wellbeing Coaches.

Our call centre will ask you for a brief description of the problem and a brief history, for example how long have you had this concern and what, if anything, have you done to treat it so far.  This is to help to ensure that you speak to the most appropriate clinician for the symptoms you are experiencing. 

After 11am, once all of our book on the day appointments have been filled, we switch to booking appointments for urgent issues only.  So if you want to see a GP or Allied Health Care Professional and it is not urgent and it is after 11am, please ring on a different day.

As an alternative to phoning to book an appointment, you can submit an eConsult, which is an electronic consultation.  You can access the eConsult system through our website or the NHS App between the hours of 8am-6.30pm, Monday to Friday.  You will be given an appointment according to how urgent the problem is and with an appropriate clinician or your named GP.

WE WOULD LIKE MORNING CALLS TO BE SAVED FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED AN ON THE DAY APPOINTMENT.  PLEASE CALL AFTER 2PM IF YOU NEED A BOOK IN ADVANCE NURSE OR HCA APPOINTMENT OR SOMETHING ELSE:

  • Prescription Queries – you can ring any time of the day, selecting the Prescription line – this line is manned by our separate prescriptions team.
  • Results and Med3’s (Sick Notes) – please ring for results or Med 3 requests after 2pm as this keeps our phone lines free in the mornings for appointments with GP’s and Allied Health Professionals and helps to spread calls across the day, avoiding large queues. 
  • General Enquiries - please ring for general enquiries after 2pm as this keeps our phone lines free in the mornings for book on the day appointments with GP’s and Allied Health Professionals and helps to spread calls across the day, avoiding large queues. 

GP Buddy Groups and PODs

 

We would like patients to have their care co-ordinated by their named GP so that they can develop an excellent working relationship together over time.  We know that this is good for both the patients and the doctors.  If you have a ‘simple’ medical problem then seeing any clinician is absolutely fine; but for ongoing conditions it often helps to see the same person. 

To provide cover across the week and improve accessibility for patients our GP’s work in buddy pairs (and one group of three).  So if you have an ongoing condition we will do our best to book you with your named GP or their buddy.  Failing that we may book you with a trainee GP (who has longer appointments and is supervised by an experienced GP) or another GP within the POD.  The PODs groupings are denoted by the different colours. 

APPOINTMENT SYSTEM FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

  1. Why have you changed the appointment system?

Organising an appointment system is very tricky.Demand for appointments (across the country not just in Banbury) is at an all-time high and GPs are already seeing millions more patients per year than they were just a few years ago.BUT, the percentage of NHS funding going to GPs has dropped; and GPs are becoming much harder to find. So, unfortunately there comes a point where the demand for appointments is greater than the possible supply.This means it becomes harder to get the GP appointment you want, at the time you want it.We are also now having to keep the environment Covid safe for everyone which means we simply can’t fill the practice with waiting patients like we used to.Our on the day appointment system aims to tackle this challenge.We aim to provide excellent, safe and sustainable medical care for ALL our patients. This means we need to have an appointment system that can deal expertly with ALL URGENT CASES ON THE SAME DAY and one where less urgent cases can also be dealt with in a safe and effective way.

  1. Why am I being asked to phone on a day when my GP works?

We would like patients to have their care co-ordinated by their named GP so that they can develop an excellent working relationship together over time.  We know that this is good for both the patients and the doctors.  If you have a ‘simple’ medical problem then seeing any clinician is absolutely fine; but for ongoing conditions it often helps to see the same person. 

Most of our GP’s are not available to consult with patients every day, so we have a buddy system which provides cover across the week to improve continuity of care for patients.  So if you need to see a GP and your named GP does not work on that day, you can see their buddy GP.  This will mean that your care for ongoing conditions will be limited to two GP’s as far as is possible, enabling you to develop a relationship with both of them.  

You can still request a different GP to your named GP, for example you may want an intimate examination with a same sex GP.  Just explain this to the Call Centre and they will be happy to help.

  1. I want to see my GP, but I have been given an appointment with an Allied Health Professional, why is this?

If you see one of our allied health professionals for a problem - then you are helping keep the GP appointments free for those who only a GP can help.There are also many conditions that other members of the team are more expert at dealing with than the GPs:

  • Our excellent nurses are specially trained to deal with many medical problems. 
  • Our advanced practitioners (nurse practitioners and paramedic practitioners) have been specially trained to deal with ‘minor illness’ such as sore throats, ear infections, chest infections, urinary tract infections and many other issues.  They will also be able to organise a prescription if you need one.
  • We now have a team of mental health nurses who can better deal with adult mental health problems and can also organise prescriptions if you need one.
  • We have a team of physiotherapists who can expertly deal with musculoskeletal problems like back pain or knee pain.  They may also be able to administer joint injections if you need one.
  • We have a team of pharmacists who specialise in dealing with all medication queries as well as being trained in areas such as high blood pressure and arthritis care.
  • We have a team of social prescribers who can deal with social problems, loneliness, access to local community services etc.
  • We have a Health and Wellbeing Coach who can help you achieve your health related goals.

Lots of other problems (medication, sick notes, letters) are actually better sorted by members of our extremely experienced administration team.  Our call centre team keep all patient information confidential; so please tell them a bit about the problem and they may actually be able to deal with it straight away.

  1. Why is the wait on the telephone so long?

We have 40,000 patients and often have up to 2,000 calls in one day.  That is a huge task.  Our new call centre has 12 call handlers answering calls through the week.  So, when you call and are 10th in the queue that may mean you will actually be spoken to quite quickly.  We need to encourage our patients to spread the calls through the day by calling between 8am and 11am for an on the day appointment and after 2pm for book in advance nurse and HCA appointments and also non appointment issues.  Please try to use electronic means for all admin queries (fit notes etc).  Many patients call us about issues we can’t help with so please check the website first or NHS choices to make sure that Banbury Cross Health Centre is the best place to call.

  1. Why do I have to tell the call centre about my problem?

We want every patient to see the right professional to deal with their problem. Everything you say is confidential and everyone in the practice understands their duty of confidentiality.

We now have a huge team working together and many problems are better dealt with by an Allied Health Professional or a member of the nursing team.  If they are not sure then they will always speak to your GP.  If people ‘insist’ on only speaking to a GP then they are making it harder for everyone to see a GP when a GP is really needed.

If its an embarrassing problem then we promise we won’t be embarrassed.  Our Call Centre staff speak to many patients each day and they are used to dealing with embarrassing problems in a caring and professional way.

  1. Why can’t I just book a face to face appointment?

Covid 19 had brought enormous changes in primary care.  We have never stopped offering face to face appointments but for obvious safety reasons have needed to restrict those to be sure no one enters the building with Covid 19 and also make sure we can follow the rules on social distancing.  Many of our patients are vulnerable and at high risk from Covid 19 so we must keep them safe.

Telephone and video calls can be better for many patients – they mean people can have their problem dealt with without worrying about travelling, child care, parking etc .  Many problems can be dealt with over the phone and we have all been trained in telephone consulting.  Photos can be brilliant to help manage skin problems etc.

As the risk of Covid 19 recedes we will be seeing more patients face to face – as clinicians we miss seeing our patients too!  But we will still be restricting this to those who need to be seen so that we can keep our waiting rooms safe for all.

  1. Why can’t I book to see a GP in a week or two?

Some of the recent issues we have had with appointments are because they get booked in advance and then there are not enough ‘on the day’ appointments left.  We have to ensure above all else that unwell people can be seen on the day.  Future appointments are also more likely to become DNAs (people forget or get better and don’t come) which is a waste of appointments.  So, we are moving for the time being to an on the day service.  This will be reviewed regularly.  Only GP and Allied Health Professional appointments will be on the day, other nurse and HCA appointments will still be book in advance.

  1. What is eConsult and how does it work?

eConsult is a way to contact the surgery about a problem which means you don’t need to telephone the surgery.  It is excellent for any ‘admin’ type queries like fit notes (Med3’s / sick notes), results etc.  For medical problems it can be good for anything not urgent.  It will be triaged and slotted in with the best clinician in exactly the same way as the telephone calls are.  The time frame for replying will depend on the clinical problem and how urgent it is but you will be told when the clinician will be looking at it.  They may just reply online back to you with advice or treatment or they may telephone you, depending on the problem.

  1. How do I request a sick note/fit note/Med3?

The best way is via eConsult. It then moves most efficiently through the system to your GP.  If you cannot use eConsult then please telephone after 2pm.

Remember we only provide fit notes after 7 days of illness - the first week you need to ‘self certify’.

It takes some time to process the fit notes but you will get it within 5 days and it will be sent electronically to you, usually on your mobile phone.  Your workplace should understand that this is the system and they cannot insist you present it immediately. 

  1. How do I get my test results?

Blood tests usually come back in 2-3 days and scans and xrays in 1-2 weeks. Some do take longer though, depending on the test.  We will only be able to see results that we have requested.  If your test was asked for by the hospital then the result will go to them and not us.  It is their responsibility then to share the result with you (and your GP) but this may often take 3 weeks or longer.  We cannot chase this for you and you will need to contact the hospital yourself.

The best way to get your results is to ask for ‘Patient Access’ or use the NHS App so you can see your results directly.  Your doctor will have put a comment for each one.  Please remember medicine is complicated so a result may appear to be outside the normal range but may still be marked as normal – your doctor will have assessed what is right for you.

If you don’t have computer access then please call after 2pm and you will be told the result comment.  We don’t give out actual figures because our call centre team are not trained to understand the complexities of results and they might give an incorrect answer. 

  1. How long does it take for the practice to get letters from the hospital?

Communication between the hospital and us can take some time.  When we receive a letter it is scanned onto your record first (this might take a day or more)  and then it will be read carefully and passed to your GP if needed.  Hospitals often tell people to call their GP the day after they have been seen.  This is usually because they don’t realise that their notes may not be sent instantly from the hospital and that it will also take time for us to receive them and then process them. 

Our advice would be to wait a week for a discharge summary to reach us (if you have been in hospital or the emergency department).  A clinic letter usually takes at least 3 weeks to reach us (time for the hospital secretarial team to type etc).  That is why it is the hospital’s responsibility to provide any medication or order tests if they are needed urgently.

 

Published: Jun 17, 2021