Doctor and nurse appointments are in great demand and as a practice we are doing our best to meet this demand with the limited resources that we have.
Our clinics are fully booked everyday, but unfortunately a small number of patients do fail to attend their booked appointments without prior cancellation, despite the practice sending text message reminders 24 hours prior. These appointments then go to waste. Although clinicians can carry on with other important clinical work in this time, it ultimately means that fewer patients were seen that day.
To ensure a fair system for all patients and to make as many appointments available as possible, the Practice has implemented a ‘3 strike policy’. This means that if a patient fails to turn up to a booked appointment on 3 separate occasions in a 12 month period without cancelling in advance, they will be removed from the practice list.
This is not a step we would ever take lightly, and the policy is intended to prevent missed appointments rather than punish. We hope that our patients will understand, and we do not anticipate having to remove anyone from the list on the grounds of a breach of this policy.
Thank you for your co-operation
Potentially addictive medication policy
As a practice, Hoyland endeavour to combat the ever-growing problem of substance misuse in our community.
There are a number of medications which we prescribe for therapeutic purposes that have the potential to cause addiction. Please rest assured that any prescriptions that are issued for pain killers, anxiety or sleep disorders are always done so with the utmost caution and in doses and quantities that are less likely to cause addiction. Despite this, unfortunately it is very easy for individuals to develop a tolerance to medication and for this reason we aim to regularly touch base with patients who may be prescribed any of the above mentioned medications.
There are some patients who have historically been prescribed sedatives or opiates and have remained on them for many years. Although we would address this on a case-by-case basis, our primary aim would be to gradually wean these medications off and explore alternatives.
We understand that some of our patients may have concerns about being asked not to take certain types of medication, however we would like to remind you that we will always work with you to find suitable and safer alternative forms of therapy. If you are regularly taking opiates, painkillers or sedatives, please make an appointment with a GP to discuss it.
Fair Usage Policy
Our team is here to help and we will ensure that we provide you, our patient, with the highest quality of care and service. We will never deny you access to our services, but unfortunately our services are limited and once there are no appointments left on a particular day, our reception team may need to signpost you to alternative service providers or find an appointment for you on a different day.
As we cater to an ever-growing local population (currently around 12,500 registered patients) but continue to experience a diminishing workforce locally and nationwide, there are fewer doctors looking after greater numbers of patients (https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/nhs-delivery-and-workforce/pressures/pressures-in-general-practice-data-analysis)
This will inevitably make it increasingly difficult for our patients to book an appointment with a clinician at the time of their choosing and as often as they might want or need one. In order to make the appointments system equitable for all of our patients, we periodically audit our systems to ensure that appointments are being used in the correct and most appropriate way. This includes ensuring that the correct type of ailment is addressed by the correct healthcare professional (e.g. our receptionists signposting to the pharmacy for minor ailments that do not need a GP’s input – something known as ‘care navigation), but also implementing a ‘Fair Usage Policy’ to maintain an equal degree of access to appointments to all patients.
We understand that different patients have different healthcare needs, and at times their health may decline such that they will require more intense input from the surgery for a limited time during that decline in health. However, we may consider that you are excessively using our services by:
- booking more appointments per year than is deemed reasonable when compared to traditional general practice and the ‘average’ number booked by other patients, particularly those with the same or similar disease patterns (note: we are fully aware that every patient is an individual and their needs cannot be directly compared with those of another)
- cancelling an unreasonable number of appointments within 2 hours of the scheduled appointment time
- failure to attend an unreasonable number of appointments without prior cancellation – see ‘Did Not Attend Policy’
- pre-booking multiple appointments at any given time, prior to the first appointment even having taken place; or, pre-booking multiple appointments ‘just in case’ and then cancelling at the last minute or changing to another family member’s name; any other form of appointment ‘blocking’
If we believe that a patient may be misusing the appointments system in any of the ways outlined above, or if there are any other issues brought to our attention in regard to somebody’s appointment booking patterns, we will contact you and highlight our concerns. We will work with you to reach a resolution that ensures your continued access to services, but one that does not put you at an unfair advantage over other patients. If no agreement can be reached and a patient is consistently in breach of our Fair Usage Policy, we may need to ask them to find another GP surgery as them remaining registered with us could be putting other patients at a disadvantage.
SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
In the modern age of the internet, some people choose to air their concerns regarding services on social media. Our experience is that, for the most part, comments posted on social media tend to be of a negative nature and attract all manner of further negative responses – often becoming individualised comments rather than constructive feedback about an organisation. Such posts about our practice staff have been brought to our attention in the past.
We welcome all feedback – positive and negative – as it is gives us the opportunity to review the services we provide and, where necessary, make changes or improvements. However, we would ask that rather than posting offensive comments about the practice or any of our staff on social media, you bring aspects of the service that you are unhappy with to our attention using the following means and give us the opportunity to respond:
- In writing. Please feel free to leave any comments or suggestions in the letter box next to the reception desk, or hand in to a member of staff.
- Tell us about it (in a calm and polite manner!)
- You can visit the NHS Choices website and leave a ‘star’ rating and a comment – once again, we would ask that these comments are respectful, even if negative
Please do not make an appointment with a GP to air a grievance, as this is a waste of precious clinical time and takes away another patient’s opportunity to have their physical or mental health attended to.
If any offensive social media posts are brought to our attention, we may contact the patient/s involved and invite them to have a face-to-face discussion about the issues that they have. However, depending on the content of the post, it may be viewed as a potential breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship and could result in you being removed from our practice list.
YOU WOULD NOT EXPECT TO READ DEROGATORY COMMENTS ABOUT YOURSELF ONLINE AND NEITHER DO WE
Zero Tolerance Policy
Our clinicians will always work with you and use a process of ‘shared decision-making’ in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for your health. Nevertheless, it is natural there will occasionally be disagreements between a clinician and a patient over the treatment plan. In these situations, the best way to address this is for you to inform the clinician what it is you were hoping to achieve from the consultation (e.g. a referral, a stronger painkiller etc), rather than not speaking up about it at the time and feeling disappointed about the consultation later on.
Your GP/nurse/pharmacist/advanced nurse practitioner would like to know sooner rather than later if you are unhappy with what has been suggested.
However, we would ask that any disagreements are raised in a polite manner. In keeping with the NHS-wide ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’, we take abuse of our staff (physical or verbal) very seriously.
You would not expect your healthcare provider to shout at, swear, or hit you – and we do not expect this from our patients.
In the event of abuse, we will record this as a ‘warning’ in your records and inform you of this when it occurs. We will always make reasonable adjustments to account for the frustration that people might have regarding the very sensitive nature of their health. However, depending on the severity of the abuse, it may be viewed as a potential breakdown in the doctor-patient relationship and could result in you being removed from our practice list.