The appointment booking system at Spring Hall Group Practice

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We have received a number of queries relating to how to book an appointment with us and we would like to share our booking system with our patients in more detail.

All the branch sites of Spring Hall Group Practice are open core hours from 8am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

Queens Road surgery is open on an evening for pre booked appointments for all of Central Halifax PCN practices, from 6.30pm to 8pm Monday – Friday and a Saturday from 10am till 2pm. This provision is shared across all Central Halifax PCN practices which include Spring Hall Group Practice, The Boulevard Medical Practice and King Cross Surgery.

For this service, appointments with a prescribing clinician are pre bookable through telephone consultation with a clinician at your registered surgery, if a face-to-face appointment is deemed to be required, they will book this at this time. All the nursing and HCA appointment in this service are pre bookable via reception staff.

During our core hours all nursing and HCA appointments are pre bookable via reception staff and we try to ensure these are available up to 4 weeks in advance. This includes nurse appointments for long term condition reviews such as Asthma and COPD or Diabetes. We have appointments of each level of nursing across all five of the Spring Hall Group Practices branch sites.

Spring Hall Group Practice employ a range of prescribing clinicians including a prescribing nurse, Advanced practitioners, salaried GP’s, and GP Partners, as well as Physicians associates who currently work alongside the prescribing GP. We are also one of the largest training practices in Calderdale.

Alongside this provision we also work closely with Central Halifax Primary Care Network utilizing the additional clinicians working within our PCN, these include first contact physios, podiatrist, mental health practitioner, social prescribing link workers and care coordinators. Most of these appointments are pre bookable. We are also able to refer to the community pharmacy referral scheme for those minor ailments which can be dealt with in full by your local pharmacist, thus saving the available appointments with your GP practice.

The majority of Spring Hall Group Practices’ appointments with a prescribing clinician open at 8 am and are bookable in one of three ways.

  1. Using PATCHS online consultation which is accessed via our website- Currently this service is limited to the number of clinical requests it will accept each day, but we regularly review the numbers and increase as we have the capacity to deal with the request both from a reception perspective and also an appointment availability perspective. PATCHS is available all day for admin requests such as prescriptions and repeat sick notes etc. 
  2. System one online booking- this is available by registering for online access to appointments. These also have a limited number as they require a receptionist to review the request and signpost to the most appropriate clinician or service.
  3. Telephone the practice from 8 am and a receptionist will sign post you to the most appropriate service or clinician.

We also have a limited number of pre-bookable slots each day for non LTC medication review, follow up appointments required by the clinician, requests to discuss blood results or hospital letters. Given that we are such a large practice I am sure you can appreciate these appointments are booked very quickly.

We are aware that there are large volumes of calls being received from 8 am and we are working hard to improve the speed at which we can respond to these. Our average wait time at present is 17 minutes but there are times when this is significantly higher. We are working hard to reduce this. Unfortunately, since the merger we have been busy recruiting for 8 reception positions across the practice, this does have a dramatic effect on the speed at which we can respond to all the demand coming into the practice. Our main priority has been to recruit and train these new reception staff to ensure that our patients can get through to the surgery in a timely manner.

The practice made the decision to increase the queue number based on patient complaints/ comments at receiving an engaged tone when trying to contact.

Although the call queue now accepts fifty calls, we often have up to fifteen people answering, even with the reception shortages, as our admin and management team will also answer the phones at our busiest times to assist. This is something we hope to continue to improve on and have successfully recruited the eight staff this month into the team and will be busy training them over the next few months.

We regularly review the number of appointments we provide each month based on the British Medical Association guidance for the gold standard number of appointments, and we offer way above the gold standard! However, we are not an infinite service, we have a limited number of appointments that each clinician can safely provide each day, this number is also based on the British Medical Association guidance for safe working practice. 

The demand on general practice is increasing each year and the number of appointments offered is significantly higher than pre-pandemic figures. Unfortunately we still have patients who book appointments and do not attend. In June 2023 this totalled 686 missed appointments, this increases the workload on admin and reception in re-booking these appointments and they could have been used by other patients. Please could we ask that if you do not need your booked appointment that you let the Practice know so we can re-book another patient into this.

Thank you