The best time to call the surgery to see your doctor face-to-face: Our essential advice as part of vital GP campaign to end remote appointments 

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To see a GP or not – it’s not really a question at the moment.

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While doctors are offering telephone and video consultations, as the Mail’s campaign, Let’s See GP Face to Face has highlighted, the number of face-to-face consultations has plummeted over the past year.

The latest figures show that, on average before the pandemic, more than half of appointments in England now take place in person, compared to eight in ten.

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Earlier there were about six million appointments in GP surgeries every week – the number fell to three million in the first lockdown and now to six million. But many of these personally are not.

Currently, patients do not have the legal right to ‘timely’ face-to-face GP appointments, which some campaigners now say is required.

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While doctors are offering telephone and video consultations, as the Mail’s campaign, Let’s See GPs face to face, has highlighted, the number of face-to-face consultations has plummeted over the past year.

The Mail is calling for a guarantee that face-to-face appointments are default (this is in contrast to then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s proposal in July last year, when he suggested that all GP appointments be made remotely by default) should be known – which was quickly shot down by groups of doctors).

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) states that face-to-face consultation is ‘an essential element of common practice’ and that distance consultation should be an option, but not an ‘automatic default’ for GP services.

In a statement issued earlier this year, it said: ‘Once we get out of the pandemic and things are back to a normal way of living and working, we can resume normal practice altogether, or even that most do not want to see remote service. .’

There’s a much publicized shortage of GPs, and with apparently fewer in-person appointments available, it’s best to leave those slots to the people who really need them.

But if you think your health concern or personal condition warrants it, how do you go about maximizing your chance of making an appointment?

How to get slots face to face

This is what the NHS currently says about getting a GP appointment. You can contact your GP surgery to:

  • by visiting its website.
  • Using the NHS App.
  • calling them.

If you call, the general idea is that Monday morning is the busiest part of the week for the GP, so not the best time to call.

But if you have serious concerns about your health, don’t delay in calling surgery just because you think it may be hectic.

Statistics show that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are traditionally the quietest days (while Mondays are busy because patients tend to brush off problems until after the weekend, Fridays are also busy because people worry they won’t be there until the weekend) will arrive). If your call is not urgent, do it in the middle of the morning when call volume is low.

Earlier there were about six million appointments in GP surgeries every week - the number fell to three million in the first lockdown and now to six million.  But many of these are not personally

Earlier there were about six million appointments in GP surgeries every week – the number fell to three million in the first lockdown and now to six million. But many of these are not personally

Talking to GP Receptionist

Receptionists are the GP gatekeepers, and they are there to triage patients whatever you can think of to the process. The sheer number of people wanting to see a doctor can sometimes ruin relationships with patients at the best of times, simply because of the demands of the pandemic.

Be prepared for the fact that you may have to wait some time before your call is answered.

“When people aren’t well, it’s not the best time for them,” says Myra Upton, president of the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators, but aggression doesn’t really help — we all work under extreme pressure. are.” and receptionist.

A GP trainer we spoke to recently said she had received 800 calls in a day, with 50 people queuing at one point, some waiting as long as two hours.

“This was for an appointment that has already been gone, or for a service that they probably could have accessed through an app or a pharmacy,” he said.

So you need to ask: do you really need to see the GP face-to-face?

When to push to see a GP

There are some instances when a patient should, ideally, see a GP in person, Dr Claire Gerada, a GP in south London and former chairman of RCGP, told Good Health recently. If any of the following scenarios apply to you, you might want to pronounce it when you call surgery.

  • If you have asked for help more than three times for a condition that has not improved, such as a severe skin rash and temperature in children under one year of age.
  • If you have a urinary tract infection that is not responding to treatment.
  • A face-to-face appointment is also recommended if you have something that requires a physical examination, such as a suspected breast lump or testicular lump, according to Kefa Mokbel, consultant breast surgeon at Princes Grace Hospital in London. Is. .
A GP trainer we spoke to recently said that at one exercise she had received 800 calls a day, with 50 people queuing at one point, some waiting as long as two hours.

A GP trainer we spoke to recently said that at one exercise she had received 800 calls a day, with 50 people queuing at one point, some waiting as long as two hours.

…and can someone else help when you don’t need to?

There are some situations when you can seek help from health caregivers other than the GP. for example:

  • Repeat prescription – the medicine can be reviewed by your pharmacist.
  • Long-term blood pressure check – this can be done by a practice nurse or at a pharmacy.
  • To discuss follow-up test results.

getting help for someone else

What if you’re worried about an elderly neighbor who can’t manage a remote consultation? Can you offer help?

You can collect a paper prescription from a GP for a friend or relative if that person has told the GP practice that it is okay. Some surgeries may ask for proof of your identity.

If an elderly or vulnerable person has given their consent, according to the NHS you can also talk to their GP about their health – maybe…

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