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Make the Most of Your GP > ivy.gs/makethemost

Top Tips on using our service

Make the Most of your GP

Did you know...? snippets


It will not have escaped your notice that appointment waiting times are increasing. There are simply not enough GPs as existing GPs retire, resign and emigrate and those who leave are not being replaced. This is due to a variety of reasons, not least of which is deliberate and chronic underfunding by successive governments. The crisis is affecting the whole GP service throughout the UK.

We want to provide you with a quality service, however, we do need your help to do this. These pages are here to help you make the most effective use of our services.

'Make the most of your GP' newsletter articles

This page gives you information on getting the best from our service. We provide this information to help patients direct themselves to the most appropriate source of help and also to help them make the most of their interactions with us.

Some of this information may have been provided previously in the form of our regular newsletter, Ivy Grove News, which is available to download or read online.

Make the Most of Your GP part 1

Elements of this article have previously been published by the Patients Association

Think before you book

Please book an emergency same day appointment for genuine emergencies only. See a dentist for dental problems. GPs don't give antibiotics for common colds or viruses.

Telephone appointments

Consultations which do not require a face to face examination can be safely and easily dealt with by telephone. Sick note requests, medication advice and administrative issues are examples. Reception will always ask if your problem can be dealt with by telephone. See our website at bit.ly/11tPSRs for information.

Ask for advice

Not sure who to approach? You can always ask for advice first rather than book a surgery appointment. For instance, your problem may be better dealt with by a district nurse, or a health visitor. NHS 111 is also available for health advice round the clock. See our website at ivy.gs/medadv for more advice.

See the nurse

Our practice nurses are highly qualified and trained to deal with many medical conditions and manage the long term care of many patients themselves. See the list on our website for more information bit.ly/11GwHPY on what you can book to see the nurse with.

Make the Most of Your GP part 2

'Oh and doctor…'

It has been shown that presenting problems to the doctor as you leave distracts them and increases the risk that mistakes will be made and things will be missed. Unless the problem is a true emergency to be dealt with there and then, we would always encourage you to rebook a fresh appointment if you wish to discuss other concerns.

Book a double if needed

If you feel your problem is very complex, or you have multiple issues to discuss, please ask for a double appointment when you book. We find that when used responsibly, double appointments help everybody and reduce waiting times for other patients.

Cancel if you can't get

Every year, hundreds of appointments are wasted because people don't cancel their appointments when they cannot attend. This wastage is equivalent to the surgery being shut for a whole two weeks every year! Please bear this in mind when you find you can't book with us.

Don't miss out - get online!

There is a wealth of information on our website, including contact numbers, medical advice and self-help leaflets. You will have noticed that many of our newsletter articles include links to the full text online and to other website pages where you will find lots of useful information. We would therefore encourage all patients to go online and see if they can find the answer they need.

Make the Most of Your GP part 3

Getting dressed and undressed

Your appointment with the GP is only 10 minutes long. It will help your GP if you wear clothing appropriate to the part of your body that might need to be examined. If you find that you need to spend 3 minutes getting dressed and undressed during your consultation, then nearly a third of your precious time with the doctor will have been taken up.

Urine samples

If you attend with a problem relating to your waterworks, it is always sensible to provide a fresh specimen of urine on arrival at the surgery. Please ask reception for a urine bottle.

Drink plenty of fluids

It is apparent from blood test results that many patients do not drink enough fluids in the day. Normal daily fluid intake for healthy people should be between 2 and 2.5 litres (6 to 8 cups). Drinking too little not only makes you feel under the weather, but also affects your blood results which gives the impression that things are not as well as they seem and which may lead to unnecessary retesting.

Self-help for your condition

Many of the patients that we see have conditions that could have been managed safely at home, with advice and medication from pharmacists. If you are not sure where you need to go to get help, please see our poster at ivy.gs/go or read the Choose Well article on page 3.

Make the Most of Your GP part 4

Book appointments online

You can now help to reduce demand on the phones by booking your own appointment online. Please visit ivy.gs/online for more details.

Listen to our receptionists

When you call for an appointment with us, our receptionists are trained to pick up on verbal clues that might indicate a more serious problem, like heart attacks or strokes. In such situations, they have been authorised by the doctors to advise you to ring 999 or attend a major Accident and Emergency department. Please listen to our receptionists so that you do not unnecessarily delay the care that you need.

Join your Patient Group

Ivy Grove Surgery has its own patient group, which has been set up to help improve services for all patients. Please see the dedicated noticeboard in the waiting room or view the patient group pages on the surgery website at ivy.gs/pg.

Sick notes from hospital

Following your hospital stay or outpatient clinic appointment, your hospital doctor is legally obliged to issue you with a fit note (sick note) should you need it. Such a note should be for the full duration of time that they have advised you to be off work. We strongly urge all patients NOT to leave the hospital until they have received their sick note! More details at ivy.gs/med3.

Make the Most of Your GP part 5

Don't waste our time

A recent search showed that a staggering 677 patients did not attend their appointment with the doctor and an equally shocking 492 patients similarly did not attend their appointment with the nurse within the last 12 months. Each of these patients did not let us know that they could not come, meaning that their appointment could not be used by someone else, meaning that we lost six weeks of precious appointments! Such a scandalous waste makes it much more difficult for everyone else to book an appointment.

Tell us if you change your details

If you change your address or telephone number, please always take the time to let us know, just in case we may ever have to contact you.

Book with Citizens Advice

You can book directly with the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) who run a surgery on Friday mornings at Ivy Grove. CAB offer free, confidential, impartial and independent advice and helps people resolve their problems with debt, benefits, employment, housing, discrimination, and many more issues. It is available free to everyone.

Get help from our website

Don't know where to turn for help or who to ring if you have a problem? Visit the help page on our site at ivy.gs/help, or check the telephone numbers at ivy.gs/numbers.

Make the Most of Your GP part 6

10 minutes is not very long

Many patients do not realise that their allocated appointment time is only 10 minutes. 10 minutes is not a long time, when you consider that this will include time spent with history taking and examination, dealing with any pressing problems you might have, and time spent completing forms, prescriptions and making an entry on the computer.

Whilst we will always aim to give patients the time that they need, we do need to try and run on time in order not to unduly inconvenience other patients who will be waiting. If you have multiple problems that need dealing with, we would always ask that you book a double appointment as necessary.

Go to MIU for injuries

Changes in our contract mean that GPs are no longer paid to provide care for any patients with minor injuries. If you have an accident, injury, strain, sprain, or have any other conditions which can easily and safely be managed by the Minor Injuries Unit at Ripley Hospital, we would encourage you to attend there promptly. In order to help patients, we have developed a simple information poster which is available at ivy.gs/miu.

Request visits before 11am

Please see the rest of this newsletter for our new home visiting policy, but if you feel you qualify for a home visit, please always ring us early so that we can assess your request and plan our day effectively.

Make the Most of Your GP part 7

Learn to self-care

A large part of what we see in General Practice constitutes 'minor illness, such as sore throats, sickness and diarrhoea, coughs and colds, It is not always necessary to ring and book for a doctor's appointment as many of these conditions will get better with appropriate self-care and advice. For help, please see our symptom checker at ivy.gs/symptoms.

Request home visits appropriately

Just a reminder that we will only carry out home visits to those patients who are bedbound or terminally ill. Housebound patients do not automatically qualify for a home visit as transport can often be arranged with friends, family and other services. We have a duty to use our resources for the benefit of all our patients. Please read our policy at ivy.gs/visits.

Self-refer where possible

Patients with many different conditions can self-refer to the most appropriate service without needing to see a GP first. Examples are those with back, neck or joint pains (Physio Direct), incontinence (continence advisory service), mild to moderate anxiety or depression (counselling services), foot care advice and treatment (podiatry at Ripley Hospital), alcohol and drug misuse (various addiction services), social services help (social services). For more information, visit our symptom checker page at ivy.gs/symptoms.

Make the Most of Your GP part 8

Avoid just turning up

Unlike walk-in centres, we are not a walk-in or turn-up service. Also, General Practice is not geared up to be an emergency service like Accident and Emergency departments. We run a full appointment system for the benefit of all patients. We would therefore kindly ask that all patients ring us and book an appointment first before arriving at the surgery. This will mean you are less likely to be kept waiting. We have a doctor on duty daily and will always deal with urgent and serious problems the same day.

Use our Symptom Checker

A doctor's appointment is not always required nor is it always the best option for your condition. In order to help patients direct themselves to the most appropriate service, we have a Symptom Checker online at ivy.gs/symptoms. This is designed to encourage patients to access appropriate help in a timely manner. We have now added a new search facility to the page so it will be even easier to find your symptom or condition. Try it out!

Later appointments are for working people

We have a limited number of evening and late evening appointments available and would suggest that these appointments are booked by those who are working in the day or who are otherwise unable to attend our daytime appointments for other reasons. We provide such services to try and help as many different types of patients as possible.

Make the Most of Your GP part 9

Keep to the same doctor

We know it can sometimes be a struggle to get an appointment with any doctor, let alone the one that you want to see, but we would always encourage patients to try and stick to the same doctor for any ongoing problem, even if it may mean a short wait. By doing so, you will maintain continuity, one of the guiding principles of practising safe medicine. Seeing another doctor for an ongoing problem, whilst it may be convenient, may not provide you with the best care: the doctor must spend significant time evaluating your condition from the beginning again, they may not agree with previous treatments, they may come to a completely different conclusion or feel pressured into acting outside their normal practice. All of this may therefore not be in your best interests.

Try not to miss your slot

We offer text reminders of your appointment and will confirm your appointment time and date with you when you book. Despite this, we do still however have many patients who miss their slots. By doing so, such patients waste precious appointment time, and will deprive other needy patients from seeing the doctor. Please be considerate: if you cannot attend, do let us know as soon as you can so that we can offer your slot to another patient.

Check our website

We will collate all these articles into one page on our website for ease of reference. Watch this space!

Make the Most of Your GP part 10

Drink more water

It is apparent that most people don't drink enough; we have busy lifestyles and we forget, we don't want to go to the toilet that often, or we may not have access to regular drinks. Drinking too little can cause headaches, makes us feel unwell and puts a strain on our kidneys.

No need to ring for results

Several years ago we changed our system so that we will actively inform patients if results are abnormal. Therefore if you don't hear from us, you can assume that your test result was either normal or requiring no action from the doctor. Doing so will make it easier for others to get through on the telephone.

We are not an emergency service

Unlike Police, Ambulance and Fire Services, General Practice is most definitely not an emergency service! We have fully booked surgeries and planned visiting sessions. If you have an acute emergency, for their own safety, we would kindly ask that patients try not to present to the front desk to be seen.

We would advise that patients with conditions such as suspected heart attack, suspected stroke, severe bleeding, should always ring 999 for an emergency ambulance. In cases where a visit may be required or has already been agreed with the doctor, again we would advise a 999 ambulance if the patient becomes seriously ill or deteriorates.

Make the Most of Your GP part 11

Get the Right Help

A doctor's appointment is not always the best option and may even lead to a delay in care. Please visit our new landing page for all help about your condition and to see if you can self-refer, self-care or seek help from other more appropriate health professionals. The address of the page is ivy.gs/help (link opens in a new window).

Coming for an injection?

Please help us to be as efficient as possible by being appropriately dressed in attire that will easily expose the area of your body that requires the injection. This will help to avoid undue delays. We also advise that following an injection, all patients sit in the waiting room for a short while, to ensure that they are well and ready to leave the surgery.

Plan your repeat requests

We advise all patients to ensure that they request their repeat prescriptions well in advance. Prescriptions take up to 48 hours to be turned around. Whilst this may seem like a long time, it is actually a rather tight time-frame, as time is required for the receptionist to check the thousands of items being issued in several hundred prescriptions every day; then each prescription must be checked and signed by a doctor. We find that urgent requests take time out of this process and delay the prescriptions of other patients. Please also note that that anything written on your repeat slip may delay your entire script whilst we investigate your request.

Make the Most of Your GP part 12

Away from home?

We cannot visit nor provide medical advice to any of our patients who are out of our practice area, other than to advise that, if you are away from home but still in the UK and need a GP, you can contact any local GP surgery nearby. You can receive emergency treatment from a GP surgery for up to 14 days whilst away from home.

If you need medical advice or treatment but you don't need to see a GP, you can call NHS 111, see a pharmacist who provides advice and treatment for minor conditions, attend a minor injuries unit (MIU) which provides treatment for less serious injuries, or go to a walk-in centre for other medical conditions. These services do not require you to make an appointment or register as a patient.

Double Appointments

We always encourage patients to book double appointments if they have several problems to discuss. However, we would like to remind all patients, with such appointments, to ensure that they arrive on time and that they have checked in.

Arriving late for an appointment may cause you to miss your time slot, with the result that you may be asked to rebook, or the doctor may be unable to deal with your other issues within the shorter time frame. Arriving on time helps to reduce frustration to other patients who have arrived for their own appointments well in time. Thank you.

Make the Most of Your GP part 13

We are not an emergency round-the-clock service!

General Practice is by definition not an emergency service. Emergency services for health include 999, out of hours services, Accident and Emergency, Minor Injuries Units and Walk-in Centres. For GPs, urgent is actually within 48 hours, but is usually later the same day.

GPs are contracted to provide services from 8.00am to 6.30pm weekdays. In this surgery we hold routine appointments till 6.00pm. We are not paid to provide any services outside of these times, nor are we paid to treat any patient with minor injuries. This is not our choice, but rather a decision made by those who pay for health services.

Please bear the above in mind when using our services.

Self-refer, Self-refer, Self-refer, Self-refer, Self-refer

We might not like the self-service tills at the checkout, and would much prefer a human being to scan our groceries for us, but the self-service tills are very much here to stay. With this in mind, we ask that patients familiarise themselves with all the different agencies that they can all self-refer to, all without having to see a GP first. For instance, counselling, drug and alcohol services, continence services, physio, STD clinic, social services, stop smoking, family planning clinic, citizens advice, podiatry, the list is endless.

See our page at ivy.gs/help.

Make the Most of Your GP part 14

Don’t poke cotton buds in your ear!

Yes, we know cotton buds are almost too perfectly shaped to be inserted into the ear, however, as they say, you should never put anything smaller than your elbow into your ear! The skin within the ear is very sensitive and fragile, and can be easily damaged by literally anything that it gets into contact with, including water, shampoo and cotton buds. We would always advise that you seek the help of a pharmacist in the first instance if you think you have problems with ear wax.

Make sure we have an up-to-date contact number

As mentioned later in this newsletter, we have a new text messaging service. If you want to take part in this service, please let us have your correct mobile number. In the future, we may be able to send messages to landline phones.

Urgent Medication Issues

Like many other surgeries, repeat prescriptions need two working days for us to process. This gives us time to perform checks and maintain safety. We are getting increasing numbers of requests for repeat medication to be issued urgently due to a lack of simple forward planning from patients. Such requests delay other patients’ prescriptions and increase the risk of mistakes. We will now only issue urgent medications if they are on a list of medications that are considered essential to continue without a break.

Make the Most of Your GP part 15

Ringing for results

If you are waiting for results of any recent tests, please telephone the surgery after 2.00pm.

Please bear in mind that reception staff are not medically qualified and are not allowed to give out specific information regarding test results, and they will only be able to inform you whether the doctor has seen the result, if it has been filed as ‘normal’ or ‘no action’, or if the doctor wishes to see you further to discuss your condition.

For confidentiality reasons, staff are not allowed to give results to anyone other than the patient.

Carers Clinics

We run a Carers Clinic at Ivy Grove Surgery on the second Wednesday of each month.

This service is there to support carers with their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing as well as obtain practical advice and information that may assist with your caring role.

The service is available to all who care for anyone over the age of 18 years. No referral form is required; if you think you would benefit from support just contact one of our receptionists to make an appointment.

This service is provided in conjunction with the Derbyshire Carers Association. For further information, please visit derbyshirecarers.co.uk (link opens in a new window).

Make the Most of Your GP part 16

Your GP is not a substitute

Although we are generally more accessible by phone than your average hospital consultant, as your GPs, we are definitely not substitutes for when you need specialist advice or treatment from your regular hospital consultant. Some patients feel that they cannot ask their hospital doctors detailed questions about planned procedures or results, or request sick notes or prescriptions fearing that it is either not the hospital doctor’s job, or that it would be wasting their time, so they get in touch with us instead.

You may not know it, but the hospital is contractually obliged to deal with all your queries regarding your ongoing care at the hospital. Feel free to contact them via their secretaries.

Please respect hygiene

Your GP is not immune to coughs and colds and we kindly ask that patients do all they can to maintain hygiene and reduce the risk of spreading disease. This means keeping clean, washing hands regularly, using disposal tissues and also alcohol gel to clean hands and surfaces.

Accordingly, we also respectfully request that patients do not blow or cough in our faces when we are examining them, and at the very least, use a tissue and cover their mouths. The last thing patients or the practice needs is our medical staff going off sick after catching something from our patients. Many thanks.

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