Dr. Barry Sullman, GP partner at Balaam Street surgery, Newham, was impressed from an early stage by the Practice Assist model.
Dr. Sullman said: “I have taken part in many service launches as a commissioner, yet I have never before seen the attention to detail that took part in preparing this project and the ongoing attention as the service continues. Care UK clearly understand how to do this and helped to set up the service in a thorough and comprehensive way.”
Practice Assist has helped to deal with pressure on the practice, this was not only affecting all of our staff, but also damaging to our most vulnerable patients’ chances of receiving medical advice."
Dr Sullman explained: “Before the introduction of the system, there was great unhappiness amongst our patients. The practice offered, on average, 50 face-to-face appointments on a daily basis. This did not meet demand and up to 50 patients were turned away every day."
“Patients started queuing from 6am to secure an appointment. This meant that those patients fit enough to withstand the elements for up to two hours would secure an appointment at the expense of more ill patients who could not queue. This was also an obstacle for families, particularly single parent families who could not queue because of childcare needs. The traditional model gave an advantage to stronger, healthier patients over weaker, vulnerable patients.”
“We can now offer 70 to 80 telephone consultations every day, supported by 50 face-to-face consultations at the surgery. Our patients are very happy because generally, their problem is resolved on a same-day basis. Our doctors are also happy because the intense pressure and atmosphere of constant complaints from patients has disappeared."
“Clinical time has been freed, allowing practice GPs to concentrate on areas that had received less attention before. Reception staff are happy because the stampede every morning has disappeared. Furthermore, patient complaints relating to being unable to secure an appointment have also relinquished. Reception is now a peaceful environment.”
The particular model which is offered by Practice Assist is what attracted Dr Sullman. He said: “The crucial difference between this model and others is that it represents a unique synergy between two providers. Care UK, providers of Practice Assist, have clearly demonstrated knowledge on how to deliver telephone consultations and triage. Patients who were managed by a telephone consultation received a complete consultation with a registered GP through the Practice Assist hub. Patients can get a prescription sent electronically to a pharmacy of their choice. If they require a referral, this is arranged. If paperwork is needed, this is carried out.
“The results of this initiative have been nothing short of miraculous. Instead of having surgeries that are bursting, we’re now able to manage demand much more effectively. Every single patient who calls the surgery is called back by a GP at a time that suits them and feedback about the service has been very positive.”