Issues around availability of appointments with usual doctors, waiting times for these appointments and the importance that some patients attached to this was clear both from the survey and from the group present. Dr Amiel informed the meeting that w e are acutely aware that our patients sometimes find it difficult to see their own doctor – usually one of the GP partners – as quickly as they would wish. Work had been done and was ongoing to improve access and availability, additional doctors’ and nurses’ appointments and early morning, late evening and Saturday appointments had been added to the system, telephone surgeries to enable patients who do not need a face-to-face consultations to speak to the doctor of their choice were some of the recent initiatives put in place to address this.
The issue remains and consequently the practice is currently undertaking two initiatives, the first working with a Health Consultants looking at demand for appointments balanced against supply. The second looking at developing a clinical team structure model.; the key aim being to improve continuity for patients, while providing better support for all clinical staff. The idea of teams is at an early stage, but is based on small groups of doctors working together with a group of patients within the wider team. Each team, possibly three, would include two partners their registrars and one salaried doctor. Which team a patient belonged to would be based on which doctor they consider to be their usual doctor. The team size would be based on the number of clinical sessions offered by the clinicians to roughly the proportion of registered patients this equates to.