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March 2022

The signs of Spring are very welcome and hopefully signify the new beginnings I am sure we are all hoping for. In that vein, from April we will be changing the way we review patients with long term health conditions (L.T.C.s) - such as asthma, C.O.P.D., diabetes, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis etc. - and the medications that often come with them.

Currently patients are asked to make a G.P. appointment every 6-12 months depending on age, medical problem and the control of those problems. The G.P. then probably asks you to make several appointments with the nurse for checks such as blood pressure, weight, blood tests, diabetic and asthma checks etc. Often you may then need to review the results with a G.P. at another appointment. Clearly this is time intensive for patients in terms of appointments and we know that busy lives that can make it difficult to prioritise health - especially if patients are asked to attend several appointments.

Thus we plan to create a new system. We will invite patients with L.T.C.s to come into the surgery during the month of their birth for one (sometimes quite long) check with the nurse to have all monitoring done at the same time. This enables us to plan work and patents will know when to expect their review. There will be time built into these appointments to ask questions and to signpost you to services that might be of interest.

The medical team will then meet to review all your results and you will then be contacted with the recommended advice, usually via text, email or letter. This may say everything is looking really good and there is no need for further review of your long term health conditions until the following year unless something changes. It is really important to stress, though, that the surgery is always happy for people to book appointments to discuss their health even if the surgery has suggested there is no need for review. We always want to hear your concerns/questions. This is about improving care and not avoiding our patients! We are hoping that patients with good control of their conditions will only need to attend the surgery once a year if they wish. Importantly there should be a far greater choice of the timing of this appointment.

If things are not quite as well controlled, then recommendations might include an appointment with a G.P. or the specialist diabetic nurse for example. These appointments will be specifically to review these conditions and will allow all the time the patient and medical team need to ensure we are doing the best we can between us for your long term health conditions. Decisions will be made together, as always, about subsequent follow up.

Benefits of the new approach include:

  • Greater choice of timing of appointments for patients
  • Nurse monitoring appointments wait times will be short
  • Patients won’t have to attend the surgery multiple times if they don’t need/wish to
  • Improved patient ownership of your health and monitoring
  • Streamlined use of services that will generally reduce appointment wait times
  • Dedicated time to review long term health conditions to prevent them being add-ons to other reasons for seeing the G.P.

We are excited about this change. We know it will take some time for patients and the surgery to adjust but we hope in the long run the benefits will be clear. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during our first year of offering this service. We are always interested to hear your feedback and anything you think might be able to be done differently or improved.

Dr. A. F. Smith

Published: Feb 25, 2022