Newsletter - Spring 2018

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Late Spring Newsletter: 2018

Welcome to our latest Newsletter, keeping you up to date with what is happening at your GP practice. As you may have read in the local press, over the past 6 months, we have been carrying out a thorough review of how our new appointments system Patient Connect has been doing. It is therefore right that much of this Late Spring Newsletter is dedicated to telling you what improvements we have been making to the system. In addition, there is also news on The Green Impact Award and the Digital Diabetes Prevention Programme. As always, enjoy the read!

Patient Connect: Listening To You

It has now been more than 6 months since we introduced our new GP appointments system, Patient Connect. Karen Creffield is our Practice Manager and she explains that since November last year both her colleagues and herself have been listening carefully to patient feedback on the new appointments system.

Karen Creffield

Karen Creffield

‘It has been made fairly clear from many patients that they felt that they really benefitted from same day access,’ explains Karen. ‘No longer having to wait for up to 4 weeks for routine care has gone down extremely well with patients. Patient Connect has been all about providing access to the right medical care, at the right time and with the right health professional. However, for some of our patients the new appointments system was not working for them and we therefore needed to resolve these issues. This is exactly what we have been doing during the last 6 months review period.’
With the current review period concluded, we have recently announced a series of changes aimed at improving the delivery of Patient Connect. The changes announced include the following:
Increasing the number of phone lines to help improve access into the system.

The introduction of a new system that logs all patient interactions with Patient Connect. If you not managed to get an appointment for a routine or non-urgent condition after a few attempts, the Care Navigator team at the practice will be made aware of this and ensure that extra help is given to you.

The practice is currently actively recruiting for additional GPs and Nurse Practitioners to help deliver the best service possible. An Open Day for prospective new GPs at the practice is being held on Wednesday 30th May.

The Care Navigators and Health Professionals at the practice are all receiving on-going training to help improve the patient experience.

The practice is currently reviewing its automated phone messages and the website now provides clear information on what is on offer to patients.

We will regularly offer Top Tips on how to get the best from the system, with information being made available in the local press, on social media and of course in this our regular newsletter as well as the website.

The number of evening appointments between 6.30-8pm has been increased. This will mean that people who find it difficult to use the appointments service during normal working hours of the day can now be offered face to face pre-bookable appointments on the same day but during the evening. Patients should speak to the Care Navigators to book one of these evening appointments (which are subject to availability).

During the review period of the past 6 months, it also became clear to Karen and her colleagues that as much information as possible should be made available to patients.
‘We have therefore collated all the most Frequently Asked Questions that our patients have put to us on how Patient Connect can work best for them,’ adds Karen. ‘I think that these will really be able to help!’

Question: What do I do if I am struggling to call the practice in the morning to arrange a telephone consultation?
Answer: You can pre book a telephone consultation on the day online and book a call back at a time to suit you. You will need to register first from our website This solution really helps our patients who may have limited time in the work place to make a call.

Question: How can I make an appointment with my preferred GP?
Answer: Go to our website and you will be able to see which doctor is working up to 3 weeks in advance. For routine consultations you can call or book a call back online on a day you know your preferred GP is working. We also recommend checking the website on the evening or morning before your call for any amendments to our schedules due to illness. We will always offer you a consultation with your preferred GP if available.

Question: What if I can only make an evening appointment?
Answer: These appointments are made available 2 weeks in advance. We are unable to offer these through online booking at the current time.

Question: I have spent over an hour on the phone trying to get an appointment. What should I do?
Answer: Our average wait times for a call to be answered are around 5-7 minutes. On a busy day you may experience wait times up to 20 minutes. Please only wait on the phone when you have heard the words ‘Welcome to Frome Medical Practice- Patient Connect Appointments Line’. The longer wait times could be because patients have not been connected into the Frome Medical Practice system by their call providers due to call volume.

Question: What happens if I would like to know what position I am in the queue when making a call?
Answer: We are looking to reintroduce our call queuing information, as many patients have said you prefer this, We have also increased the number of Call Navigators taking the calls. We found many people were saying they had put the phone down when they heard they might be 20 or higher in the queue. We understand this can put people off waiting but please try and stay on the line as calls move quickly through the queue.

Question: I am unsure what I can and can’t book ahead for?
Answer: All our appointments with our Practice Nurses and Health Care Assistants can be booked in advance. Some GP appointments can be pre booked for evening clinics. You can also pre book HGV medicals, mother and baby checks and other routine areas. We recommend you book at least 4 weeks in ahead for these. We also recommend if you are calling to book one of these appointments you may want to call later in the day when the phone lines are less busy. We will be updating our website to make it easier for you to see which health conditions can be seen by which of our health professionals. Please visit our website for more details.

Question: What can I see my pharmacist for?
Answer: We are fortunate to have the St Aldhelm’s Pharmacy in the Medical Centre building. Over the counter remedies can be purchased there. Our pharmacist and St Aldhelm’s are now able to directly prescribe treatment for impetigo, conjunctivitis (age 1 and above) and for urinary tract infections in women. There will be some exceptions when they recommend you need to see your GP.

Question: Why has my Doctor or another health professional booked me to see a nurse practitioner?
Answer: We are very fortunate at Frome Medical Practice to have Nurse Practitioners who are highly skilled in helping patients with many conditions. Our website will explain the treatment they provide.

Question: If I have run out of phone credit or don’t have a phone what should I do?
Answer: You can book your appointment for a call back in person. We have phones available in the practice that patients can use to receive a call back. If you speak to a Care Navigator in person they can also advise you.

Question: What happens if I have special needs which make it difficult to either make a booking or receive a call back on the telephone?
Answer: Please speak to our Care Navigators and they can then help and advise you.

Whilst this first formal 6 month review has now been completed, Karen is keen to emphasise that as Patient Connect continues to develop, so the practice will continue to review how the appointments system performs in the future.

‘We have worked hard with all of our patients to make sure that Patient Connect works,’ says Karen. ‘At a time when nationally it is very rare to be able to witness any continuity of care, Patient Connect now makes it a great deal easier for our patients to see the same doctor. I also fully understand that there are some situations which can be frustrating, particularly when you (or your child) may be unwell. However, everyone at the practice here will always do everything that we can to offer you the patient the best care possible. The partners as well as myself are all really proud of our dedicated, caring and professional team here at the Frome Medical Practice, as we all strive to provide the best service within the resources available on the day.’

Green Impact Award

As part of our commitment to improving sustainability, we have signed up to the primary care Green Impact Award and will be focussing on some of our current good practice and in particular where we think we can improve. The award has been developed by the University of Bristol, the Royal College and General Practitioners (RCGP), Health Education England (HEE) South West and the National Union of Students (NUS).

Refill Frome

The toolkit was designed by GPs and sustainability professionals, specifically to help GP surgeries improve their sustainability and environmental impact.

For more information visit –

As part of the Award we have been looking at some of our purchasing choices. Some of the small changes we have made have been to switch to Fair Trade Tea and Coffee and to purchasing more environmentally friendly paper.

We are promoting the GSK inhale recycling scheme and encouraging patients to recycle these at the Beckington Practice or Boots. We are also hoping St Aldhelm’s Pharmacy will soon have a facility available.

As a practice we have also joined up to the Refill Frome Campaign. The Practice has introduced our own new Refill Bottle Station at the practice.

The growing national Refill scheme encourages making free and safe drinking water available to all. We have been working closely with local resident Josie Shilabeer of the Refill Frome Campaign. Josie was inspired to make a difference in her community after learning more about the environmental impact of plastic.
As you may well have read in the local press, the first person to use the new refill bottle station at the GP practice was Mayor Sheila Gore.

‘I am delighted to have been the first to use the new water installation at the practice,’ says Sheila. ‘This scheme fits perfectly with our “say no to plastic” campaign and efforts to reduce single cup use. It also goes hand in hand with encouraging a healthy lifestyle through drinking more water on a regular basis. It is great to see so many places in Frome embracing this initiative.’

The introduction of the water station was made possible due to the generous fundraising efforts of two of our own practice staff, Ali and Jazz Grey. Additionally, the money raised by Ali and Jazz also helped ensure that everyone at the practice was provided with their own metal water bottle made by leading manufacturers onegreenbottle.

‘Providing water to our patients and visitors is really important and being able to do so in a way which encourages us all to make some small changes that make a big difference has made supporting this scheme so worthwhile,’ explains Ali.

The practice are keen to help promote the scheme throughout the town. They are giving away 5 stainless steel drinking bottles made by onegreenbottle to local residents. To take part all you need to do is follow Refill Frome on facebook and post a picture of yourself using one of the 10 refill stations already signed up in Frome, or alternatively tweet a picture on @FromeMedPractic. The winners will be drawn at the end of May by Josie from Refill Frome.

We are also keen to learn of your own views on what we are doing as a practice with Green Impact. If you have a few minutes to complete this survey we would be very grateful!

And Finally…

Don’t forget that you can always keep up with all the latest news and developments at your practice on Twitter @FromeMedPractic