Making online enquiry easier: 22nd July 2022

Though many have been satisfied with "econsultation", we have had feedback from some that the number of questions is laborious. We have changed to a new service, accurx. Although there are fewer questions, please do give us as much information as possible so we can prioritise and direct to the right person to help. Not everything needs a doctor's appointment. About a third of our enquiries are related to certificates, letters, results, medication. If it is an admin query such as these, please make this clear. We also want to avoid duplication, so if you have written in, please allow us to respond before telephoning. We hope you will be happy with the new service

We are continuing to experiencing very high volumes of enquiries (from patients online, in person, by phone, as well as 111, other medical services and allied professions). Sorry we cannot resolve all queries within 48h. We are often working late into the evening and at weekends. As well as consultations, we are dealing with hospital letters, results, and chronic disease management. You will get a text reminder 24h before your appointment or time your online enquiry will be reviewed.

We have good availability for nurse appointments for smears, blood pressure, contraception and specific long term conditions. We also have HCA appointments for blood tests (though this is likely to require prior discussion with other clinician). We have pharmacists who can discuss your medication queries. We have a pod in the waiting room where you can check your blood pressure or weight. You can book these options through reception.

Dear patients

Thank you for adapting with us to pandemic circumstances, with more telephone consultations and online enquiries . 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.

Appointments: Frequently asked questions

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. A significant proportion are  face-to-face, majority being by phone (for which similar dedicated time is needed). Minor surgery is currently on hold. Some travel vaccinations are resuming (complete form at reception)  (not for multi-country/ complex trips; commercial services exist for these).  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 enquiry?

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. We have made this simpler (July 2022);  please continue to give us all the information which could be relevant (especially previous consultations/ what tried/  expectations and concerns). Please don't use this method for emergencies . Please do use for ongoing problems.  For test results or prescription requests, please use NHS App if possible.  Let us know if you need help installing/ accessing. It is easy when you know how !

If you present to reception, you will probably be asked to complete the same enquiry process, with help if needed.  This is unless it is an emergency,  or you are one of our complex/ vulnerable patients. We want to make the system fair, and avoid lengthy queues at reception or on the phone.

How soon will you respond to my online enquiry?

If it is a new and clinically urgent matter, we will respond within 2 working days (having been viewed by GP within 1 working day). 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. Nonetheless,  requests are approved by doctor to ensure best access. 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. Skin problems are usually resolved by sending photo , and online enquiry enables you to submit up to 4 images (not for intimate areas).  Let us know by  free text in your enquiry    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. We do now alert you as to what number you are in the queue: at peak hours, there are 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.

Online consultation/ enquiry

We want to 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.  Following feedback,  we have made the process simpler,  with new portal (July 2022)  here

 

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.