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GP patient appointment system to suit new normal

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Island GPs will continue to offer their patients traditional appointments at the surgery as well as offering consultations by phone or video call, where this is practical and convenient.

During the pandemic fewer people attended their local surgery, to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection and in line with safety guidance. While in-person appointments were offered to those who needed to be seen, mobile devices and web cams allowed many patients to see and speak with their doctor from home.

The approach worked well and GP practices across the Island will continue to offer a variety of appointment options for their new normal.

Minister for Health and Social Care David Ashford said:

‘This is the new state of play in general practice, and the choice of appointments available is welcome. However, I can reassure patients that face to face consultations remain a vital part of the frontline service offered by our GPs.

He added:

‘Many patients are happy to have a remote appointment, as it will save them a journey to the practice. Phone consultations won’t replace in-person appointments, but we expect them to become part of day-to-day general medical practice.’

Clinical staff will triage patients when they call, to ensure that a face to face appointment is offered when it’s needed. Virtual consultations are also available and health queries of any kind can be made by patients, parents and carers via phone, the practice website or in person.

Patients who are seen at the surgery will be asked a number of questions by the receptionist, to establish whether any precautions are needed before they attend. These include asking if the individual has any COVID-19 symptoms and whether they have travelled off Island in the last 14 days, or had continuous contact with someone who has.

It is important that the receptionist asks these questions to protect the public and staff, and patients’ co-operation in providing the information is appreciated. The screening is being carried out at the request of the Department of Health and Social Care.

Patients who develop symptoms after booking their appointment will usually be asked not to attend, although may be seen in certain circumstances, with safety measures in place. 

The operating model agreed by all GP practices confirms that almost all pre-COVID activity has resumed as normal. It includes protocols for patient care in a number of areas, including the procedure doctors should follow when they visit patients at home, and the precautions which need to be in place for undertaking minor surgical procedures at the surgery.  

Patients are advised to check their practice website for information on arrangements at their local surgery.