Dear patients

Thank you for adapting with us to pandemic circumstances, with more telephone consultations and online enquiries (econsults). As we adjust to the new normal, we are experiencing very high volumes of enquiries. We have continued throughout the pandemic to offer in person or video consultations where needed, and discovered new ways of working such as photographs for rashes. We want to help you navigate the new landscape, and get the best service from us.

Current Services (October 2021): FAQs

We are providing blood tests, nurse and HCA and GP appointments, and have been throughout the pandemic. On some days, we have in excess of 200 GP consultations. About 1 in 5 are face-to-face, majority being by phone (for which similar dedicated time is needed), sometimes with prior online enquiry (econsult). Minor surgery is currently on hold, and so is travel clinic.  Please don't be surprised if we contact you outside core hours,  as we are working evenings and weekends to keep up.

FAQs

Why am I being asked to complete an online consultation?

It is helpful to know your needs/ questions/ expectations in advance, to enable us to help.  It is the best way to ensure your GP is aware of your problem,  and to book a consultation where needed.   Many patients prefer this method , and it also takes pressure off phone lines. Though the online consultation tool “econsult” (at ststephens.webgp.com) does involve quite a few questions, this is to ensure clinical safety and for us to have clinically relevant information upfront.  Please don't use econsult for test results or prescription requests.  NHS App is easier for this.  Let us know if you need help installing/ accessing.

How soon will you respond to my online consultation?

If it is a new and clinically urgent matter, we will respond within 2 working days. If it is ongoing or less urgent, we will inform you when a clinician will review. Numbers are such that we cannot guarantee all will be resolved within 2 working days.

Are you providing face to face GP appointments?

Yes we are, and have been throughout the pandemic. However, the first contact needs to be either online (econsult) or by phone, to agree if a face-to-face consultation would be helpful. If you consult online with a problem which clearly needs a face to face examination, such as breast lump, then we would try to arrange this in the first instance. We have found that some conditions can be effectively conveyed by photo (such as rashes), and econsultation enables you to submit up to 4 images.  Let us know by  free text in econsult    if your preference  is for a face to face consultation,  telephone or video.

What about the digitally excluded? 

We have smartphones and a tablet in reception that you can use in a private environment,  and we can help you with using these. We have free NHS wi-fi in the practice, if you are short of data.  We can arrange telephone consultations for certain elderly/ vulnerable groups.

Can you speed up my hospital appointment?

You’ll probably be aware that there are significant backlogs in planned hospital care. Suspected cancer cases are prioritised . We are not able to influence waits. Many specialties are asking us to refer via “advice and guidance”; they won’t automatically see you or consult by phone, but will give specialist advice. If you are already an outpatient , and were expecting to receive a follow up appointment but have not, you could try ringing “patient advice and liaison service” (PALS); (020 35942040 for Royal London / Mile End) (RLHpals.bartshealth@nhs.net); alternatively, try contacting the relevant hospital department (secretaries).

I want to talk to the GP about my results

If you had a test requested through secondary care (hospital), then the result should go back to the hospital clinician who requested it. You can expect them to contact you if a result is abnormal. If a GP at the practice requested a test, then the results will come back to us. Similarly, we will contact you if any significant abnormality. We encourage you to download the “NHS App” to view your GP records , including results. If there is a minor abnormality or borderline result we often put a free text note which you can read. We don’t have the capacity to have routine follow up after all tests.

Why aren’t the phones being answered?

We ensure sufficient staff are answering phone lines and are reviewing data on this. We are sorry if you are experiencing a long wait. This is probably because staff are on other calls. Though our phone system does process a queue, we do not currently an alert as to what number you are in the queue, as volumes of calls are so high: at peak hours, 90 calls per hour or more. Each call does take time and attention; queries can be complicated and take several minutes to resolve.

 

 

NHS App (free on android or iphone)

Please use this where possible for

  • Blood test results
  • Access to records
  • Prescription requests

You can confirm your ID online with a photo of your passport, or we can confirm at reception and grant you a PIN/ linkage code. Please let us know when you have confirmed your ID, so we can upgrade your access.

Econsults

Econsults can be convenient for you, and help us understand your needs in advance. Due to current volumes we can’t guarantee a consultation within 48h, but we can acknowledge and give you a timescale for response. Please flag up if the problem is new or ongoing, and if it something our reception team can help with. We need to prioritise by clinical need, and offer fair access to all.

https://ststephens.webgp.com

Coronavirus is still prevalent; we are offering a mixture of online,  telephone and face-to-face consultations. We are maintaining a safe environment, with separate zones, regular cleaning schedule and spatial distancing in waiting room. Our full clinical team are working , and we are doing blood tests and face to face appointments where needed. Please complete an econsult enquiry (8am-8pm , seven days a week) and we will respond within 2 working days (usually much sooner). Econsults should NOT be used for clinical emergencies. Our telephone lines are open 8:30 – 6:30 Monday-Friday.

Please note: Our phone lines are NOT answered between 1-2pm.

During this time PLEASE RING 0300 033 5000 for Urgent medical emergencies that cannot wait until we are next open.

Evenings/Weekends/Bank Holidays:

Tower Hamlets GP practices collectively offer appointments outside core hours (evenings and weekends); these are known as "hub" appointments , and can be booked through the practice or through 111

Please contact 111 for non-emergency, and 999 for emergency problems.

Important Practice News & Notices

This practice allows community health service clinical staff directly involved in your care to access parts of your medical record. Your consent will be asked before this can take place. If you do not wish this to happen, please let the practice know.