52 High Street, Caythorpe, Grantham, NG32 3DN | 01400 272215
12 Ermine Street, Ancaster, Grantham, NG32 3PP | 01400 230226
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Many patients have used askmyGP during the Covid-19 pandemic to consult with clinicians safely and quickly. We intend for askmyGP to remain a core part of the way that the Practice works but it brings some challenges which we met recently with our Patient Participation Group (PPG) to discuss. NHS services are currently under extreme and unprecedented pressure to provide care to patients. We intend to make simple changes to the use of askmyGP to allow us to continue to provide outstanding care but protect those providing that care to do so in a sustainable and safe way.
Some patients put in queries on a Friday evening that will change significantly by the time they are seen by a clinician on Monday morning. Turning off access over the weekend from Friday evening until Sunday evening is a safe enhancement to the use of the system. The PPG agreed that during this time there was good cover provided by use of the 111 service to give patients advice during those hours. The system would remain turned on during evenings in the week.
We aim where possible and appropriate to respond to most simple queries on the same working day. All requests through askmyGP that come in when the Practice is open are seen by a clinician initially who then decides the correct person or team to deal with the query. To ensure all requests can be safely assessed askmyGP will be turned off at 4pm and then turned back on again at 6:30pm. If your query is urgent during this time then please call the Practice and reception will contact an appropriate clinician.
AskmyGP queries have increased by more than 20% since its introduction just over a year ago. Alongside askmyGP queries a GP will be seeing patients face to face, visiting patients at home, checking blood results, writing referral letters and the many other tasks that take place during a working day. Whilst the Practice has expanded the team there is a shortfall between patient demand and the Practice’s capacity to deal with this.
The members of the PPG felt it was critical to turn off askmyGP when safe capacity for the day had been reached. On most days this will be met by the 4pm -6:30pm change as discussed above. When the clinical team available on the day have reached their capacity to deal safely with the work in hand we will turn the system off earlier than this and ask patients to contact us later in the week or to contact us by phone if they feel their query is urgent.
The Practice and PPG agree that quality of care must take priority over access and speed of care. Their key message was that we communicate this to all patients who use our services in an open letter and they have endorsed this message. These changes will be put in place with immediate effect and will be reviewed regularly to stay in line with demand and capacity.
We thank you in advance for taking the time to read this and with some small tweaks we can make sure all patients continue to enjoy the level of care they have until now for many years to come.