A NEW way of booking doctors appointments is set to be introduced at a Hartlepool GP practice.
Hartlepool’s McKenzie Group Practice, which has two surgeries in town, will bring in the Doctor First system from Monday.
Every patient will be offered appointments depending on how urgently they need to see a doctor, instead of on a first-come first-served basis.
Callers will be asked to describe their symptoms over the phone and a GP will assess the nature and urgency of the problem before they are given a time to go in.
The practice says the new system aims to be less frustrating for patients and help them get the right help when they need it.
It also hopes to prevent people going to the doctor if they do not really need to be seen.
Ann Heppenstall, practice manager at McKenzie Group, said: “After listening to our patients and patient group we want to provide them with the best possible advice and treatment for their health issues.
“This system allows the patient to receive direct clinical advice in a timely manner.
“This will ensure we maximise our resources for the benefit of patients and their carers.”
The McKenzie Group operates surgeries at McKenzie House, in Kendal Road, Belle Vue, and Throston Medical Centre.
Under Doctor First, patients will be asked to give their details and a brief outline of the problem to a receptionist.
They will then speak to a doctor over the phone that same day, for them to decide if an appointment is necessary and when they need to be seen.
Dr Nick Timlin, also from the McKenzie Group, added: “What we want for patients is for them to see the right person at the right time.
“This new system will improve patient access to their GP’s knowledge at the time they are concerned about their health.
“It will also be more convenient for a lot of patients who just need to talk to their GP and may not need to come to the surgery for a face-to-face consultation.
“We hope this will improve continuity of care by improving patient access to the doctor they know.”
The practice has increased the number of doctor surgeries and introduced same day phone clinics in response to more people asking for appointments and longer waiting times.
Appointments to see the nurse are not affected.