Important Information About Changes To The Practice

Changes to accessing of appointments at the Practice

We have received a lot of feedback over the past few months regarding accessing appointments at the surgery as well as long wait times on our phone lines. We have seen a significant increase in demand over the past few years, and even more so in the past few months, whereby the demand is outweighed by our capacity. We recognised that our current service model is not meeting the needs of our patients and recognise that we must change something.

Many surgeries across the country are now moving to an ‘online’ model and we are pleased to announce that we too will be adopting this model from April.

The government have also recently announced that it recognises that there is a problem in general practice with accessing appointments, and therefore NHS England have stated that the GP contract for April 2023 will be updated to reflect that patients should be offered an assessment of need, or signposted to an appropriate service, at first contact with the practice. Moving over to an online only platform as first contact to Christchurch Medical Practice comes with its benefits for the surgery on meeting this target set by NHS England.

Put simply, this means that to access an appointment with the surgery, you will need to complete an eConsult as your first contact. We will no longer be able to book an appointment over the telephone or via reception. When you have submitted you eConsult online an initial screening is completed by our team of “care navigators” and your request signposted accordingly. This will enable us to get you to the appropriate care in an appropriate timeframe. The other benefit of using this method is, not only significantly reducing call volumes and resulting waiting times, but also leaving the lines available for those who urgently need to get in touch, as well as help us to provide timely GP appointments where one is required.

We already have eConsult available for use at the practice, and we have received a lot of positive feedback from patients who use it regularly. Many prefer this method of contact as they do not have to wait to speak to someone on the phone, and that their need is dealt with quickly and effectively. 

We appreciate this may sound alarming to some; however, we want to reassure you that we are still here for you. If you do not have access to the internet, or do not have a computer or smart device to complete an eConsult, you can still contact us by telephone, and a receptionist will complete the form with on your behalf over the phone or in person at the front desk. This form will then be submitted to the Care Navigator for screening.  

We are also making changes to our annual ‘Recall’ system. Patient with long term health conditions who receive a yearly review, will now be invited during their birth month. If you have multiple long term health conditions, you will be ‘recalled’ for all these in one letter. This will allow us to approach you review in a more structured approach. We are starting this from April, so please be aware that if you have had a review in the last 9 months, you may get invited sooner so that it falls in line with your Birth Month going forward.

We are implementing this change from Monday, 3rd April. As this is a new way of working for us, we will be collecting feedback to help us improve the service on an ongoing basis.

We sincerely hope that this new and improved way of working will improve the service for you. All we ask is that you work with us in this change so that we can continue to be here for you, when you need us. 


Published on 10 March 2023