How we are working and why




The COVID pandemic has necessitated a change in the way that we offer services to patients. Hopefully the pandemic is in remission and we are able to get back to a more “normal” way of practice. This “new normal” however won’t be the same as the old normal and I want to explain why this is the case.

Under our old system the only way to consult with your GP was to book an appointment. It was often difficult to find an appointment that was suitable for you to attend surgery. During the pandemic we have had to find other ways of consulting with our patients and we have found these methods, in many cases, to be much more efficient and convenient for our patients. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that it provides flexibility in the way your GP can work. Because we no longer have fully booked surgeries of patients arriving at 10 minute intervals, we are able to spend more time with patients that need that time and equally provide more a more accessible service to patients.

Your GP is now consulting in a variety of ways throughout the day, including telephone consultations, face to face consultations, video consultations, online consultations and responding to online messages.

We understand that not all patients use or have access to mobile or online technology, and may even struggle to use the telephone due to poor hearing. In these cases it may be best to book a face to face consultation directly. However in most cases it really helps your GP to speak to you first, by telephone or video, to understand the nature of your problem. Your GP can, if needed, arrange a face to face consultation with you and in most cases this can be on the same day that they speak to you. Because we are working flexibly we are more likely to be able to offer a time to attend that fits in with you. If you have a strong preference for a face to face consultation, please explain this to the doctor when you speak to them.

In some cases the initial telephone consultation will reveal that your GP is not the best person to help you and they may direct you to another health care professional. In other cases investigations can be arranged prior to seeing you which will help the doctor help you more effectively.

If you are acutely unwell or have a sick child then a same day urgent face to face consultation is often the most appropriate way to help you. However many urgent cases can be dealt with without the need for an examination so it may still be worth an initial discussion first. Please explain your urgent need and the Reception Team can book an urgent appointment with a health professional. If you have a fever and potential for COVID infection then the doctor will need to speak to you first to ensure it is safe for you to attend the surgery, or make an alternative arrangement. Please bear in mind that these urgent appointments are not appropriate to deal with long standing, ongoing or complex problems. We will deal with the immediate need only to ensure your safety.

There is an increasing demand for general practice services and this has been the trend now for many years. Unfortunately there are not the resources or GP numbers to meet this increasing demand despite us

offering more appointments than ever. To help us try and meet this demand we are using an increasing number of other health professionals. These professionals are experts in their fields and are usually much better placed to help patients in their specialist area. I will outline below who these are and how best to use them. They all work closely with your GP and will liaise with your GP as needed to ensure the best care. Please make use of these services and consider booking an appointment with them when appropriate. This will enhance your care and free up your GP to focus on areas where they are better placed to help patients.


Nurse practitioners

As well as being experienced in normal nursing duties and all aspects of chronic illness such as asthma and diabetes, our nurse practitioners are trained to diagnose and treat all minor illness and injuries. If you are booking an urgent appointment you may well be seeing a nurse practitioner. They will be able to ensure your urgent care on the day and will liaise with the duty doctor if needed. If you require further follow on care, they will direct you to book an appointment with your GP.


Health care assistants

Our HCAs are trained in taking blood, ECG recording and dressings. They also help in monitoring chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and can offer some brief lifestyle advice.


First Contact Physiotherapists

First Contact Physiotherapists are musculoskeletal experts who can diagnose and treat any musculoskeletal problems from a simple sprain or strain through to problems with severe back pain and arthritis. They can offer injections, X-rays and referral for ongoing physiotherapy or consultant opinions, as well as organising prescriptions for pain medications if needed.


Social prescribers

Our social prescribers can help with any social issues such as financial worries, isolation and loneliness, difficulties with housing and some of the consequences of this. They have time to listen and offer support to more vulnerable patients and find ways to improve their health through improving their social situation. Our social prescribers are also able to offer lifestyle advice on diet and exercise for those patients who need help to lose weight and improve their fitness. We recognise that this is vital to improving the mental and physical wellbeing of our patients. Only by improving lifestyle can a true improvement in health be achieved.



The pharmacist is your expert on medication and can help explain your medication, ensure your medication is right for you and also help reduce medication when appropriate. They work in collaboration with your GP to ensure you are getting the most out of any medication you take.


Mental Health Worker

Our mental health worker is an expert in their field and has the time with longer appointments to listen in depth to you mental health problems and support you in making positive changes to improve your mental health. They can also direct you or refer you to other treatment services. Please note this service is for adults over 18yrs and does require a referral from your GP. However appointments can be booked directly by your GP and waiting times are short.


If you are unsure of which healthcare professional is best placed to help with your needs, please discuss with the Reception Team.

I hope this explains the way we are working and why we are asking patients to book an initial telephone consultation in most cases as well informing you of the roles of our growing team of health professionals.

Thank you for taking the time to read this communication and thank you for your continued understanding and support during such unprecedented times.

Dr A Rathborne, on behalf of the Springfield Surgery Team.

Published: Oct 15, 2021