Short-list honour for GP practice’s phone call scheme

Dr Chris Marr, GP at Wellway Medical Group.
Dr Chris Marr, GP at Wellway Medical Group.

A Northumberland GP practice is in the running for a prestigious national award for improving patients’ access to appointments.

Wellway Medical Group has been short-listed in the General Practice Awards 2015 for its ‘time to care’ project that enables GPs to have more contact with patients. Winners will be announced next week.

The group, which has surgeries in Morpeth, Pegswood, Lynemouth and Newbiggin, has implemented a new appointment system that gives patients same-day contact with their GP.

The team has also remodelled ways of working to enable GPs and clinical staff to focus on frontline care, freeing up more time for the most vulnerable patients.

With the new system, patients ringing to make an appointment receive a same-day phone call from the GP who assesses the problem, deals with it completely over the phone where appropriate or arranges a face-to-face appointment if required.

If investigations are required these can be organised and advice can be given on self-care. Patients no longer need to book an appointment in advance.

In parallel, the practice has looked at ways to streamline the ever-mounting paperwork that must be completed, making best use of the admin team where appropriate.

Dr Chris Marr, GP at Wellway Medical Group, said: “While patients were happy with their care, they were frustrated by having to wait up to two weeks for routine appointments and the limited availability of same-day urgent appointments.

“The changes we’ve made have had a positive impact on care, enabling GPs to have greater contact with patients, spending more time with those who are most vulnerable and less time doing paperwork tasks.

“Our patients really appreciate our new appointment system. The nursing team changes and the focus on streamlining paperwork really do give us all more time to care.

“We’re delighted that the improvements we’ve made have been recognised on a national stage.”

The group is a finalist in the general practice team of the year category of the awards, which recognise, highlight and reward the hard work and innovation that is carried out every day in surgeries across the UK.