Improving access to appointments with the doctor, nurse, health care assistant, phlebotomist, midwife or anybody else you see in the surgery
- Think about whether you need to book an appointment or can self care or go to the pharmacist instead
- Ensure we have your correct mobile phone number so that we can send you a text message 24 hours before your appointment
- Sign up for online services so that you can book the appointment yourself, check when it is and cancel it online or via the free android / iPhone app as well as view your medical records and understand them too
- Ask the staff if they can help you to identify other ways to remember too
- Ask your family or carer if they can support you
- The Patient Participation Group at Haughton Vale or Thornley House and others in the community may also help too
Please click on the links in blue that are underlined to find out more
Latest Data on Do Not Attends
Health Care Assistant
"Just called in at Haughton Vale Surgery and there was a sign saying 336 missed appointments during April (2015)! I questioned it and the lady assured me it was correct, as there was only 22 possible days you could have seen a Doctor it works out 16.8 per day................is this why you can never get an appointment to see a Doctor??" Message posted on Facebook
Patients expect an excellent service. You want to be able to contact the surgery and get an appointment within a reasonable time ideally with the person who is dealing with your problem. But many people complain they can not get an appointment when they need one. We are working on a number of solutions to fix this problem. But one thing we would like to put a spotlight on is how many patients miss their appointments (otherwise known as DNAs or Do Not Attends). We are not alone - all over the country many practices are having the same problem. It seems crazy that there are people wanting to book appointments and at the same time so many people are missing their appointments too.
Why do patients miss appointments?
- Patient forgets
- Problem gets better and appointment no longer needed
- Patient chooses to go to Out of Hours, Walk-in Centre or A&E
- Patient arrives late for the appointment
- Patients have not informed us of their correct telephone number
- Patient’s mobile phone is switched off or not picking up a signal when the doctor tries to call back
- Patients are at work and unable to answer the phone
- Patient becomes scared and cannot come to the appointment
- Patient does not want to speak to or see that person
- Patient’s condition deteriorates and they are unable to come
- Another priority arises (or the appointment is not seen as being important)
- Patient does not know how to / have time to cancel the appointment
- Patient does not think it matters because they think only they are going to miss the appointment and nobody will notice
- Patients do not know how many appointments are missed daily
- Patients get used to missing appointments because they think nobody will notice
- Patients think the appointments are free because they don’t pay for them
- Patients do not understand our appointment system
What systems have we put in place to help patients remember their appointment?
- The receptionist books the appointment with you and confirms date, time and who the appointment is with
- We send a text 24 hours before the appointment to inform you of the date and time of your appointment. You have the opportunity to confirm the appointment, cancel the appointment or ask for us to call you back to re-arrange the appointment
- You can book the appointment yourself (currently for phlebotomist or nurses) by going online via a computer or using a free app (iPhone / Android)
- You can cancel any appointment you have (including doctors appointments) by going online or via a free app (iPhone / Android)
- Tell the receptionist if you need us to call you after a certain time, before a certain time or within a certain time limit. We cannot guarantee we will do this but we will try to accommodate you and all urgent cases will be dealt with.
What can patients do to reduce missed appointments?
- Be aware that this is a big problem but patients have the right to book a consultation and they also have responsibilities to turn up to an appointment they have booked but also to cancel the appointment if they do not need it
- Ensure we have your correct contact details including your mobile phone number so that we can send you a text 24 hours before your appointment. You can do this easily by going online if you have signed up for online services. It also means any letters we send you also go to the correct address too!
- Write down your appointment wherever you keep it safe eg calendar, diary, your mobile phone, next to important papers
- Tell your family / carer when your appointment is so that they can tell you too
- Ask the receptionist to write it down on a slip of paper
- Check online via your computer or your mobile app (iPhone / Android) to remind yourself when the next appointment is
What else can you do?
- Sometimes patients book appointments simply to get their repeat prescriptions because they have forgotten to order them. Here is why you should order prescriptions online and save an appointment for somebody else.
- Get used to going online not just to book an appointment but also to check your records and maybe even use pre-consultation care to think about how you can get the best from your consultation. Being prepared before hand means you will get much more out of it and also after it too (and remember to check your consultations after you have had it to see what was discussed and agreed.
- Have a go with the Test Patient Record if you have never done this before and want to have a go!
- Once you have signed up for online access to your records, the practice sends periodic emails to inform you about new developments in the practice and also how best to use the services we offer. It's a great way to be kept informed especially if you do not come to the surgery often. We also encourage you to like us on Facebook and also to follow us on Twitter.
- We post important messages on the practice website www.htmc.co.uk. You can find more detailed information on a very wide range of subjects and services on the main website which is easier to access from a computer or tablet.
- Come along to the next Patient Participation Group meeting (Thornley House or Haughton Vale) where you can meet with other patients who can share their experiences with you.
- Learn from your "mistakes" so that next time you can perhaps be better prepared.
- Think about whether you really do need that appointment or whether there are alternatives you can consider
- Ask your family / carer / friends or others in the community. You might find they might be able to help you. The knowledge that exists in the family / community is a massive resource that you can use
- Speak to the pharmacist. Pharmacies run a minor ailment scheme and there are a variety of treatments that are available for free on the NHS. Ask your pharmacist to find out – it could save you a lot of time and bother. They are a great free resource and will tell you if you need to speak to a doctor first.
- Tell us if you have any other ideas that we have missed so that others can learn from you too! We would like to add to this list your own experiences too. Send an email to email@example.com, speak to a receptionist or write to Wendy Povey, our practice manager with your suggestions or constructive feedback
- Share this information with friends, family and neighbours.
These are all great habits. If you use them then not only will you remember your own appointment but you will also help others too. We hope to improve the system further by bringing new innovative developments particularly around online services as more and more people sign up for them. We also hope to offer some telephone appointments for patients to book in online with the doctors soon too. Over 4200 patients have signed up already. Please click on the link below, complete the online questionnaire and ask for your pin numbers from the receptionist if you would like to sign up as well. Remember to also sign up any other children you may have or people that you care for too. (You will need to get permission from them and they will need to come and get their pin numbers from the receptionist themselves). We have done research which shows if 30% of our patients signed up for access to their records and understanding them we could save up to 11% of their appointments (over 4700 face to face and 8000 telephone consultations) simply by using the online services. We think this is a conservative estimate and actual numbers could be even bigger as more people go online! Already 36% of our patients have access and our aim is to reach 50% before the end of the year! See our Review of 2014.
Sign up for Online Services now and see what your doctor or nurse has written about you
We can make the surgery better and more responsive by working together and supporting each other. We have only got a fixed amount of resources and need to ensure we us this as best as we can. However with your help we can go much much further.
Patients, carers and information are the most under-utilised resources the NHS has
(Dr Richard Fitton and Dr Amir Hannan)
We are very grateful for all the support and encouragement we have received from patients, carers and staff as we try to respond to patients needs.
With thanks to members of the Haughton Green Public facebook for helping to put this together