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Improving access by providing direct access to a GP

Practice manager Tahira Kamran explains how her south London practices introduced its 'Frontline Doctor Initiative', which makes a GP directly available to patients.

The Frontline Doctor Initiative makes a GP directly available in reception (Picture: iStock)
The Frontline Doctor Initiative makes a GP directly available in reception (Picture: iStock)

There has been a significant increase in practice workload in recent years, which means we all need to look at ways of managing demand.

Increased demand for same-day appointments and list size growth in our two practices, Edith Cavell Surgery and Thornton Road Surgery in south London, led us to introduce the Frontline Doctor Initiative. The initiative makes a GP directly available to speak to or Skype patients when required. A doctor is also available in the reception area.

How does this work?

We have a three-hour triage clinic every day with approximately 30-40 appointments. Reception staff will transfer the patient directly to the doctor if a patient wants an appointment or wishes to speak to a GP. The doctor either consults the patients or triages the call appropriately on telephone or Skype.  

Why did we do this?

We implemented the Frontline Doctor Initiative to improve access, provide better customer service, manage patient demand and expectations, ensure we were making best use of resources and to deliver cost savings.

Our aim behind the initiative was to make the patient’s journey easy and convenient and to offer services at the time and place that best suits them.

At every step of the process we have involved staff and built on a common vision by involving them and taking their suggestions on board to improve the initiative.

The Frontline Doctor Initiative has been greatly appreciated by our patients and patient group representatives. Part of the Frontline Doctor Initiative involves a GP being physically located in the reception area. This allows the smooth transfer of calls and also enables the GP to answer adhoc queries from reception and other clinical staff.

What did we achieve?

The new system allows patients to speak to the doctor straight away without the need for booking an appointment.

We were able to achieve all the following in a short span of three months:   

  • Better access – we have been able to provide care to double the number of patients in the same clinical session.
  • Improved patient satisfaction scores.
  • Reduced the amount spent on booking extra doctors. We reviewed data on booking extra doctors to meet patient demand noticed significant reductions of around £2,250 per month per site and £13,500 over 6 months.
  • Better management of appointments - patients are given information over the phone for minor ailments
  • Reduced A&E attendances from 50 to 35 attendances per week per site over the past quarter.  
  • Reduced in-practice DNA.

Tahira Kamran is senior manager at Edith Cavell Surgery in south London.

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