Manchester City Council

Moss Side doc brings new remedy for same-day appointments system

A GP practice in Moss Side had come up with a new way to meet demand for same-day appointments.

Moss Side Medical Practice - which covers an area of major health deprivation - has a 6000-strong, ethnically diverse patient list, which is still growing.

In August last year Dr Faizan Ahmed and his practice partners decided to try a new way of working which would help them to see patients who needed GP care that day.

The new system - which is based on using the most senior GP to triage a daily walk-in surgery - found that around half the patients who arrived that day needed a GP consultation.

Each morning, the triage GP sits in a side-room off the main waiting room and is the first point of contact for patients. The doctor will talk to the patient and from there will give the patient a choice of a one-to-one appointment, or a telephone or Skype consultation that day. The rest are pointed to the best advice or the most appropriate help, such as using a pharmacy service.

Dr Ahmed said: "We knew we needed to work in a way that would suit our patients and give them the best care and support, so my colleague Dr Umar Tahir started thinking about a face-to-face GP rapid assessment system. Some practices use a telephone triage system, but we know that our patients will feel more reassured by still seeing a doctor - even if the advice is that the patient doesn't actually need a consultation.

"Some of the work is also about patient education - we have found, for example, that if a doctor tells the patient that antibiotics won't be given for a cold or a cough, the patient will accept that advice and remember in the future and pass it on to their families.

"It also helps patient satisfaction - patients don't feel they are being 'let down' - they hear advice first-hand from a doctor and this gives them confidence. And it brings a lot of satisfaction to the GP - they know they are dealing with patients effectively and professionally - so that those people who need more time and an appointment that day will get the right care."

An additional aim of the walk-in service is to take the pressure off the A&E department at Manchester Royal Infirmary, which is near to the practice.

Dr Ahmed continued: "If our patients know they can have GP advice that day there is far less temptation to go to A&E - which might not be the right place if they don't need urgent care.

"This is also partly why we adopted a similar walk-in service for parents to bring their children to during the school run from 3.30- 4.30."

The children's clinic - called the after school club - has also had reported benefits for school attendance rates.

Dr Ahmed explains: "It's an extra security system for parents - so that they have the reassurance of being able to get an appointment after school.

"A lot of parents tell us that getting their child seen through the triage system means that they don't have to keep their child off school for as long."

In June Dr Ahmed was given an Enterprise award, from the Royal College of General Practitioners, which recognises quality and innovation within the first five years of becoming a GP.

Dr Ahmed is also a vice chair of GP provider organisation Primary Care Manchester and a panellist for the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

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