VOTE: Patients in Stockton Heath to be quizzed by GP before they see a doctor

Warrington Guardian: VOTE: Patients in Stockton Heath to be quizzed by GP before they see a doctor VOTE: Patients in Stockton Heath to be quizzed by GP before they see a doctor

STOCKTON Heath Medical Centre is adopting a new appointment system which will see patients quizzed by their GP before they are given a time to see their doctor.

Surgeries across the country are opting to go with the ‘Doctor first’ scheme after being swamped by demand for appointments.

Under the new programme, patients will speak to a ‘skilled clinician’.

As a result of these telephone consultations, health chiefs claim many patients are happy they do not need to visit the surgery and the number of missed appointments ‘fall to almost zero’.

If it is decided the patient does need to see their GP, a time will be organised for the patient to attend the surgery with 80 per cent of appointment slots free at the start of the day.

The changes will affect the centre’s 17,268 patients, 5,189 of whom have been classed as high risk problems.

Staff have asked for residents to be patient during the transitional period before the scheme comes into operation in mid-January.

Sister Beverly Hackwell, executive lead, who has been with the practice for 23 years, said: “Most patients like ‘Doctor first’ once they understand the new programme.

“Telephone consultations are not an obstacle to seeing a GP but a faster form of access to the doctor’s knowledge and care.

“It is a huge change for our staff in the way we work.

“To help our patients understand the new system we will be putting information in the surgery and on the website.”

On average there are 3,400 GP and nurse practitioner appointments each month at the Stockton Heath centre.

Health bosses have said increased demand for appointments across the town is partly as a result of many patients with complex, health conditions being cared for in the community.

As reported in the Warrington Guardian in November, four surgeries in the town recorded 482 missed appointments equating to more than 89 wasted hours in one month alone.

Speaking at the time, chairman of Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Andy Davies said people who ‘do not really need an appointment’ had been a bigger problem than missed appointments but hoped new systems would ease the problem.

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