We thought it might be useful to explain how our duty doctor clinics run and who should be booked into them.
Everyday there is a duty doctor available 8am-6.30pm, who’s role is to speak with patients who have urgent medical complaints requiring on the day assessment.
Examples of medical issues appropriate for the duty doctor include ear infections, acute abdominal pain, acute back pain, urinary infections, abscesses/infections, acute breathing issues and acute mental health needs.
It is not appropriate to assess and manage ongoing, chronic issues in the duty clinics.
This care is best provided in a longer, routine appointment with the patients registered GP. Examples of this might include ongoing rashes, ongoing joint pain, non-acute mental health, symptoms that have been ongoing for weeks or months that are not acutely worse.
If you think your symptoms are medically urgent requiring on the day assessment, you will be booked with the duty doctor who will call you back and ask more about your symptoms. The duty doctor may then arrange a face to face appointment if appropriate.
If the duty doctors feels there is no acute medical need for their input that day, they will redirect you to making an appointment with your registered GP for them to review your symptoms and make a long term plan with you. It is widely recognised that patient care is more safe and effective when there is continuity of care provided to the patient by their registered GP. We appreciate that this might mean waiting for a week or so to speak with your registered GP but continuity of care is number one in providing safe, quality care.
It is essential that you help us by considering whether your medical complaint is new and urgent, when asking for a duty appointment. Otherwise the duty clinic quickly becomes full of non-urgent issues. This puts pressure on the duty doctor clinics and potential delays in speaking with and managing those patients who are acutely unwell and needing emergency medical treatment.
Our receptionists may ask questions to help guide patients as to whether a duty appointment or routine appointment with the registered GP is more appropriate. They have received training for this and are only asking these questions to try and help make the clinics run smoothly and as a result improve patient care. We know it can be frightening when you feel unwell and frustrating to be asked these questions, but the receptionist is only ever trying to help. We ask that patients always treat our receptionist with respect.
There is no obligation for you to disclose the reason for needing a duty doctor call, however it may mean you are booked into a less appropriate slot and may be asked by the duty doctor to rebook. It will also mean the duty doctor will not be able to triage whether your call needs prioritising.
Working alongside the duty doctor we have Marcus, our paramedic. He also assesses people needing urgent on the day medical attention. Medical issues he can assess are similar to the duty doctor and include acute breathing issues, chest pain, acute abdominal pain, ear infections and UTIs.
We hope this information is useful and appreciate your co-operation in making the system work.