Clinical Assessment Team - Proposed Plan


Why are we planning to trial a clinical assessment model?

Patients want better access to appointments. Almost all patients who get an appointment are happy, or very happy, with the service they receive. We are very proud of that.

We want to provide an improved service. Appointments have been historically given out on a ‘first-come, first-served’ model. If a patient wasn’t towards the front of the queue there may not be an appointment left.  We don’t think this is fair. We do deal with emergencies on the same day, but there is a limit to the number of patients we can help.

This is the model the NHS is asking General Practice to use. We are looking to deliver something new to try to improve access for our patients.


When are we starting this new process?

We are planning on starting our new appointment process on Monday 1st July.


Who are the clinical assessment team?

The clinical assessment team will be a mixture of professionals including doctors. Our trained Patient Care Coordinators will be there to help them.


What is the best way to contact the practice?

Patients can contact us online, via the telephone or visiting in practice. Everyone will go onto a list for our clinical assessment team to review.  

We would ask that patients use our online consultation system, eConsult. This saves a lot of time.  It asks you questions so we don’t have to.  You can tell us what is going on in your own words.  

Using eConsult saves you waiting in a queue (on the ‘phone, or in person) and is more time efficient all around.  Our patients have already proved they can use the system, and in large numbers.  We had to reduce the number we dealt with as it was overwhelming the capacity of our clinicians. The clinical assessment team can deal with more, improving patient care.

If you cannot use online services this will not stop you accessing help. Our trained Patient Care Coordinators will be able to help.


Why can’t I just book an appointment with a GP if that’s what I want?

We want to provide patients with the help they need, and this may not always be a GP appointment. We are able to direct patients to the most appropriate person or service.  

Patients seen by a GP in the past could have been managed differently.

There are a variety of health and social care professionals who can help patients. Sometimes you may not need to leave home, or work, and a text message with advice, or an opinion, could help.

There are different ways for patients to receive care and we want to help as many as possible.

We care for over 11,000 patients.  Giving patients appointments they want means we quickly run out of appointments. This means that we have no other option to provide care for others.

We cannot just get more GPs and create more appointments.  Funding is getting more limited in Primary Care. We have to become more efficient to help care for more patients.


Why do the Patient Care Coordinators need to ask personal questions?

They need to ask questions so the clinicians know what sort of help you need, and when. Our employees follow data protection and confidentiality rules, so you are being dealt with in confidence.  We would encourage all patients to answer the questions. This provides us with information to work out who to contact first.

If your reason for contacting us is very sensitive or upsetting you may prefer to use eConsult. These are looked at by the Clinical Assessment Team.  

If you cannot use eConsult, a Patient Care Coordinator will gather information as you are able to give. A clinician will then contact you for more information.


When will I get help?

The clinical assessment team will aim to make contact on the same day. Often it will be quicker, but sometimes it may be on the next working day.  

At busy times we will need to prioritise the patients with the more urgent needs. If the workload becomes unsafe we will add people to the following working day’s list.  We will tell patients if this is the case.

We will aim to manage most problems as soon as possible. It might be best to wait for a particular person who knows you best, or to wait for a particular specialist.


Why are you sending text messages instead of calling, or seeing, me?

To care for more patients we need to be more efficient. Text enables us to have conversations with many patients at the same time.  This allows us to help more patients in a day.

Text messages will enable us to send you information and advice about your condition. These messages are saved in your clinical record, and can enable you to send photos or documents to us.  

We would prefer to communicate via text message, or through the eConsult system. This helps us help more patients. This is not right for every patient so if you are not able to communicate via electronic means please let our team know.


What help can the clinical assessment team offer patients?

We will aim to provide help that matches patients’ needs. These are examples of ways we can help:

•    Arranging an appointment with a specialist, such as a physiotherapist, or mental health social prescriber.
•    Providing self-help advice
•    Sending a link to book an appointment with one of our team, such as a GP or one of the nursing team
•    Arranging a call from a Clinical Pharmacist or Pharmacy Technician to discuss a medication issue


If I need to be seen, where will that be?

We have appointments available at the main surgery site, and at other places in the Bognor Regis area. Help is also available through community pharmacies and the Minor Injuries Unit at Bognor War Memorial Hospital.


What if I don’t agree with the help that was arranged?

We will do our best to match what patients need, with what they want. We may not always be able to offer help at the perfect time, place or with their chosen person.  If patients do not feel the help offered is appropriate we will explain our reasoning to reach a joint decision.


Have patients been involved in the design of the new system?

We have liaised with our Patient Participation Group. These are patients who have volunteered to be a voice for our patients. If you want to be involved in their work please email or contact the surgery.