You may have heard some misinformation in the media lately about medical practices in Scotland. All practices continue to work differently at this time following guidelines from the Scottish Government, Health Board and Health and Social Care Partnership on Social Distancing, limiting footfall, PPE and infection control. These measures are in place to protect patients, limit infection and most importantly, ensure that practices can remain open.
We wish to reassure our patients that we are open, and always have been open, right through the pandemic performing significantly more patient consultations than ever before. Our systems have had to change significantly however, in order to ensure we can continue to provide a safe level of care. This is on a background of major changes to the way General Practice is provided. These changes have not always been explained well to patients.
In the past, if you wanted to see a GP, you simply made an appointment. Now we have another method of contacting us: our online form, and if you ‘phone, you will be asked questions about what you require from the practice by our administrative team. You may be redirected to another service, offered an appointment with another health professional, offered clinical advice from one of our clinicians or be given a ‘phone appointment with a clinician. Below is an explanation of why these changes have been necessary.
‘But why can’t I just see a GP?’
Background to how General Practice has changed
The changes that have happened in general practice began long before covid-19. Patients are living longer with more medical problems and many more medications. The complexity of general practice has vastly increased. But the number of GPs has significantly declined.
One solution has been to introduce specialist roles within the practice, such as Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Practice Pharmacists and Physiotherapists. New services have been set up locally such as Minor Injuries, the Community Pharmacy First scheme for treatment of minor medical issues such as urine / throat / skin infections, Opticians to treat eye problems and the Podiatry Service for foot and ankle problems. The GP’s role is to manage the most complex cases and support the whole practice team.
If patients continued to choose whom they see, GPs would be fully booked and would be unable to deal with our most unwell patients. This simply isn’t safe. The pandemic has increased the demand on our services significantly. We are dealing with many more patients each week than we did pre-covid. This has happened for a number of reasons; patients delayed contacting us last year, lots more people are waiting longer on hospital care and need more GP input as well as the increased workload from covid-19 related illness itself. The complexity of maintaining social distancing within the practice, as we are legally obliged to do by the Scottish Government, makes things more tricky.
As well as all of these factors, we continually have staff off work isolating or unwell with covid-19. This week, particularly, is very challenging.
We ask that you contact the practice by using our online form on our website, if possible. This is the most efficient way of us getting information from you about what we can do for you and keeps our ‘phone lines free for the clinicians and our receptionists to call you. Of course, we understand that many patients prefer to contact us by ‘phone and that is absolutely fine. The on call clinician, who is not booked with appointments, will look at dozens, more often hundreds, of these requests each day and can often respond and complete your request in a few minutes. We know that this can feel impersonal, for you and for us, and we would all rather that we were speaking to everyone or even better seeing everyone. The sheer volume of patient contacts that we get through each day though is several times higher than we could achieve if we spoke to or saw everyone. So, although there are lots of things we (and you) don’t like about these systems, we have had to introduce them to ensure we are getting to care for those that need help most urgently.
Feedback We know these changes have been quite sudden and it can all feel unfamiliar. We care deeply about the service we provide and all our patients and are constantly looking for ways to improve and make things easier for everyone. We have had lots of positive feedback recently and we are so grateful for this. The team are honestly working harder than we have ever worked before and a small word of encouragement really makes a difference. We know that some patients are unhappy with how things are though and we are sorry when we hear that. We listen carefully to all constructive feedback and would encourage you to continue to help us to improve with your suggestions, which are often really helpful. Please do this by using the online form, or via email to the practice manager. We simply don’t have resources to manage responding to comments on Facebook, which is why we have turned these off.
Thanks for taking the time to read this; we hope you have found it helpful. The Williamwood Team.
If it’s safe for you to attend the practice, please remember the following :-
• Attend alone - no partner / children if possible
• Remove coat before entering the building and avoid carrying anything (eg a handbag, ‘phone, kids’ toys, food or drink)
• Wear loose fitting clothing that will not need to be removed if you are going to be examined.
• Use the lavatory before leaving home – our toilet facilities are unavailable.
• You will be met at the door and given a mask to put on before entering the building. You will also be asked to use hand sanitiser. Please try to avoid touching anything e.g. doors when you are inside.
• Conversation will be minimal during the time you are in the building. Please don’t be offended; this is to keep us all safe. We will speak to you before and after you are seen via the ‘phone.
Preparing for the nurse / doctor visit:
• Please be ready for the nurse or doctor; you will be seen and examined as close to your front door as possible. This is to minimise the risk of attending your home.
• Please open windows half an hour or so before the clinician attends to ventilate the home / room.
• Please ensure you will not require to visit the toilet while we are there.
During the visit:
• Verbal conversation will be absolutely minimal while we have contact with you at your home. We will speak to you before we attend and discuss the outcome via telephone afterwards.
• The purpose of the visit will be to physically examine you. This will be done as thoroughly as is required, but as this is all we are doing while we are with you, you will find that the visit should be much quicker than normal. Again, this is to minimise risk.
• If any questions arise while we are there, you will have an opportunity to discuss these with us after we have left. Please try, as far as is sensible, to avoid conversation with the nurse or doctor while we are there.
We hope you understand the reasons behind this change of procedure and don’t find it too inconvenient. If you have any questions about this, please get in touch before the visit.
Photographs are a very helpful way of allowing clinicians to ‘see’ your problem, while minimising the risk involved in having you attend the surgery at the present time.
Please only send images after agreement with our staff. We are unable to process unsolicited images sent to the practice via email.
Photographs will be stored in your medical record held on our clinical system and nowhere else. We will not share the image with anyone other than with clinicians directly involved in your care.
Please send photos following notes below:
• No more than 3 photos
• Ensure photos are clear, of good quality and not blurry
• Send as ‘small’ image
• Ensure information about what area of the body is added
• If possible, include an item to provide scale, eg a coin
Please ensure that you advise us of any change of name, address or telephone number. You can do this by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling in at the reception. Our practice boundary is shown on the map page of this website; if you are intending to move outside of this area, you will need to register with another doctor.
We always try to provide the best service possible, but there may be times when you feel this has not happened. We are always pleased to receive feedback from our patients, whether positive or negative. If you have a complaint, please follow the protocol laid down by the NHS in Scotland. Your complaint should be made in writing to our practice/business manager Jacqueline Forster or to Dr Pexton.
We will address your concerns, provide you with an explanation and inform you of any action that may be needed. For further information, including what action you can take if you feel your complaint has not been satisfactorily dealt with, please speak to Jacqueline Forster.
A copy of the practice complaints policy is available on request.
Safeguarding Your Health Information All staff working within the NHS have a professional and legal duty to maintain confidentiality and safeguard your personal health information. Our use of your personal health information is regulated by the Data Protection Act. The Data Protection Act gives you a number of rights in relation to how your personal information is used, including a right to access the information we hold about you. To ensure that you receive the best possible care, there may be occasions where it is important to share this information with other professionals.
The Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 enables any person requesting information from a public body to receive that information, subject to certain exemptions. This is to encourage public authorities (including GP Practices) to be more open and accountable and organise their information in an efficient and accessible way. This excludes personal data. The Practice Publication Scheme document is available to view; please contact the practice manager for more information.
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
What is GDPR?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new EU regulation that comes into force on 25th May 2018. The GDPR will replace the existing data protection legislation including the UK Data Protection Act 1998.
Who does GDPR apply to? The GDPR applies to all individuals and organisations with day-to-day responsibilities for data protection.
What does this mean for patients?
must be processed lawfully, fairly and transparently. collected for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes. must be limited to what is necessary for the purposes for which it is processed. must be accurate and kept up to date. must be held securely. it can only be retained for as long as is necessary for the reasons it was collected. Further information can be found on our Privacy Statement.
Privacy Statement for Patients How we use your records - important information for patients
This practice handles medical records in-line with laws on data protection and confidentiality. We share medical records with those who are involved in providing you with care and treatment. In some circumstances we will also share medical records for medical research, for example to find out more about why people get ill. We share information when the law requires us to do so, for example, to prevent infectious diseases from spreading or to check the care provided to you is safe. You have the right to be given a copy of your medical record. You have the right to object to your medical records being shared with those who provide you with care. You have the right to object to your information being used for medical research and to plan health services. You have the right to have any mistakes corrected and to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office.
If you feel a home visit is required then please telephone BEFORE 11.00am. The receptionist will take some information about your request, which will be passed to the on call Doctor who may phone you back to discuss your request further. Please note that we have a strict housecall policy and visits are made at the doctor’s discretion. This service is provided for patients whose condition makes it impossible for them to attend the surgery. We can attend three patients in the medical centre in the time it takes to do one housecall and it is almost always the best place to be seen, where all means of examination, diagnosis and treatment are at hand.
Contrary to popular belief it is quite safe to take a child with a temperature out of doors and, indeed, this often helps to bring the temperature down.