Some medical conditions need help the same day. At Westlands we don’t have the 8am scramble for appointments, only to find you’re 10th in the queue and all the appointments have gone. Instead, you fill in a form to tell us about your urgent care need, and it will be reviewed and actioned by our duty team. We may be able to manage the problem simply from what you’ve told us, deal with it by phone, bring you down for an appointment, or signpost you to the best people to help you. You can contact us any time from 0800-1730 (1700 on Mondays) and you will get a same-day response. Sometimes we might ask you for a bit more information, but this is simply to help us deal with you as quickly as possible.
We recognise that some people aren’t able to complete online forms. If you are one of them, then please pop into the surgery, or call us, and one of the reception staff will complete it with you.
On some occasions, it might be that emergency care is better suited to your health condition. Our online forms are designed to spot this and make sure that you get emergency care when it is needed, rather than wait for contact from the duty team.
Westlands is one of the few remaining practices to offer a personal list service. This means that you have a named GP who will get to know you, and usually your family too, and oversee all aspects of your care. The online-first approach helps us achieve this, as it means that all healthcare requests go directly to your named GP. From the information you provide, they may decide that they need to see you face to face, give you a call, sort your problem immediately, or arrange for someone better placed to consult with you, such as a physiotherapist or a pharmacist. Sometimes they will need more information from you in order to make this decision or to arrange an onward referral. If you struggle with providing this information then please don’t worry – our reception team will be pleased to help you.
Although the GPs may not deliver all of the health care themselves, this doesn’t mean that you are getting a substandard service. In our team we have pharmacists, paramedics, home visiting specialists, mental health practitioners, social prescribers, physiotherapists and more. They are all highly skilled in their field and often better placed than the GP to meet the needs you have. If you are offered an appointment with one of these rather than your GP, please don’t think that you are being denied quality care. In fact, the opposite is probably true.
Continuity of Care
Being able to provide you, and your family, continuity of care through a named GP is one of the things that is near-unique to Westlands. This is ‘old fashioned’ general practice, where the doctor saw you through from the ‘cradle to the grave’. It’s rare these days, as demand for appointments means that people are often slotted in wherever there is space. At Westlands, all healthcare requests come via your GP – even if they’re not always the one who provides the care – which means that they have an overview of everything that is going on for you. Regardless of who is delivering the care, your named GP has oversight and is the point of co-ordination and contact as needed. You may not always need to see them yourself, but rest assured that they are there in the background, ensuring that all aspects of your care needs are met and the right people are involved.
Tailoring of Appointments
As a result of our online forms for healthcare requests, we have a pretty good idea of what your need is. This means that we can make sure you have long enough with your GP – or other healthcare provider – to meet your needs. In addition, it gives us information about any tests that might be needed and we arrange these in advance of the appointment, saving you time. GPs, with their personalised lists, are able to flex appointment durations to meet needs. Some appointments are 5 minutes, others 30 – it all depends on the nature of the issue and the needs of the person. We also don’t adopt a one-appointment-one-problem approach. If you tell us about it on the enquiry form, we will address it. We recognise that many problems don’t exist in isolation, and want to give you the time you need to discuss the issues that are concerning you. By being able to flex our appointment lengths, we aim to address everything that is giving you cause for concern. This isn’t possible with the old-style calling up to book a 10 minute GP appointment with whomever is available. We believe that our approach gives you better service.
Using the Forms
Our forms are simple to use, as are the requests for additional information. Apart from the urgent care form, all are available 24/7. This means that you don’t need to interrupt work to make contact for a healthcare problem, and can do it on the go via your mobile, tablet or computer. We do understand that not everyone is comfortable or confident in using the internet for healthcare requests. We cater for these people too. If you need help with healthcare, you can come to the surgery and we will go through a request with you on our iPad, or you can call us and say that you need support and our reception team will happily complete the form with you. One of the key benefits of using the online approach is that there is no scramble for 8am phone lines trying to book appointments. For urgent problems, needing same-day input, you can contact us any time up to 1730 (1700 on a Monday) and we will guarantee a same-day response. This frees up the phone lines for other enquiries and reduces your time on hold.
When you complete a form, you will be offered the opportunity to tell us time periods when you are not available to speak/for appointments. We will accommodate this as much as possible. Due to demand, we can’t specifically tell you when we will call for phone appointments, but if you can give us an indication of when is good/not good on the form, then we will usually be able to work around this.