Haverhill GP practice's introduction of a new online booking system aims to make life easier for patients
The practice manager at the Christmas Maltings and Clements in Haverhill says the introduction of an eConsult online appointment booking system on August 27 is being done to help patients get seen by a medical professional more quickly.
Andrew Cutting said the change follows a 'comprehensive review of its appointment/triage system' and feedback from its patients and the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Engagement events took place last week in Kedington and at the Clements Surgery to allow patients to learn more about the system and to raise any questions or concerns.
Mr Cutting said: "Patients were waiting too long on the phone to get through to make an appointment and all too often the appointments were fully allocated.
“Nationally, demand for services is going up and the number of GPs and nurses is rapidly shrinking. Surgeries are struggling to cope.
“Patients with the most urgent medical issues will be identified quickly and dealt with earlier than the current system allows.
"This is because using the information provided by the patient, together with knowledge built into eConsult, a clinician at the surgery can decide how urgently a patient needs to be seen, and also the most appropriate member of staff to conduct the consultation.
“We are aware that a small number of patients were not told about these events, for which we would like to apologise.
"We provided information on our website and posted updates on our Facebook page.
"Messages were sent to all patients that have registered an email or text number with us. Many, but not quite all, other patients were contacted by post. We have now identified those patients who are yet to receive information about the new system and will be contacting them very soon."
Haverhill town councillor Alan Stinchcombe attended the meeting at the Clements Surgery and said patients raised a number of concerns, including that of having to provide intimate details to a care navigator instead of to a GP when phoning in, which patients without access to a computer can do.
He added: "Despite these concerns, which the Practice still has time to address, I think that the eConsult has a lot of potential to help the Practice cope with the pressure it is currently under.
"However, we shouldn’t forget that the need to introduce eConsult stems from a massive drop in GP numbers in Haverhill."