Effective communication is essential to providing good healthcare and is pivotal to ensuring patients receive safe care. Good communication may also reduce the likelihood of patient complaints and claims. Fundamental to patient safety is effective communication between all members of the practice team, as well as between the practice team members and their patients.
Problems may arise because of a breakdown in communication within the practice. Similarly, the primary – secondary care interface is an area where communication can easily breakdown, which can also contribute to adverse incidents.
Establishing clear communication within the practice is key to underpinning safe patient care and can help to avoid adverse incidents. The GMC also advocates the importance of good communication between healthcare teams.
- The following standards of communication will be adhered to by Practice staff at all times:
- Patients and visitors must be dealt with in a positive, efficient manner;
- Communication will be delivered in a timely fashion, and in a format relevant to the information being given;
- Information will be in plain language which cannot be Use of jargon and clinical abbreviations are to be avoided;
- Communication will be open and honest, with further explanation given where decisions made give-rise to additional queries;
- All communication with patients and visitors will be consistent with the Practice’s policies, protocols and procedures and, where required, be reflective of the NHS as a whole;
- All general patient communications will ensure they reach the correct patient groups in the appropriate format in a timely fashion.
Patients are able to contact the practice via telephone between the hours of 7:30 and 18:30 Monday to Friday. Telephone calls from patients will not generally be put through to doctors and so patients are encouraged to make an appointment to speak with the Doctor. Alternatively, our reception staff are happy to assist you with any general questions regarding your healthcare or take messages.
Reception staff may ask the patient to briefly explain the reason for the call to determine if the appointment can be signposted to the most appropriate service EG: Knee pain can be seen by a physiotherapist. Our reception staff are unable to give results over the phone, unless clearly unstructured by the referring Doctor.
Medical Certificates (MED3) can be authorised by an ANP or GP. New MED3 requests need to have an appointment with the ANP or GP, ongoing MED3 certificates can be added in the Doctor’s admin slots for them to complete, they will contact the patient if need be.
Prescription requests are sent through to the prescription clerk, they will check the medication history and issue non-controlled drugs if acute and had in the last 3 months. Repeat prescriptions are issued by the prescription clerk and medication review text messages are sent when the patient is almost out of issues.
Patients must book an appointment with their doctor if they would like a referral to a service. Should patients have any feedback regarding their care, we have a suggestion box in the waiting room. Alternatively, you may submit feedback through our website, email or speak with our practice manager, Jade Fuller. If you have any concerns about the care from your doctor, please immediately discuss this with your doctor so that your concerns can be managed. Should you have ongoing concerns, then we are happy to offer you a second opinion from another doctor at the practice. We are always trying to improve our service and are happy to address any written complaints from our patients.
Communication Types Explained
Face to Face- This can be via consultation with your doctor or nurse or interactions with other practice staff.
Telephone – Patients can contact the practice between 8:00am and 6:30pm Monday to Friday. Our reception staff may use a triage system to assess the urgency of the patients’ needs and concerns. Our reception staff will also perform a three-point identifier check to ensure the correct patient file is matched to the patient on the phone. Please note, it is often not possible to speak to the doctor at the time of calling. We do not however, book appointment through the telephone. All appointment requests must come from our website and then they are triaged to the most appropriate service for the clinical problem.
When correspondence is received from other healthcare providers, it is directly imported into the patient’s file and then sent through to the doctor to review. This includes results, emails and specialist letters. If the addressed doctor is not available and the correspondence is urgent, another doctor will review and action as necessary.
Email –Patients must be aware that any communication they direct to the surgery via email is NOT secure and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Patients communicating through email do so at their own risk. If you do choose to contact the surgery via email, this is considered as patient consent to reply via email. Our staff endeavour to respond to email messages within 48 hours. If you have an issue that requires urgent attention we request that you contact the practice via telephone.
SMS – SMS messages are sent to remind patients of scheduled appointments, health reminders and health recalls. Please make sure you update the practice if there is a change to your mobile number. Please let us know if you would like to be removed from the SMS list. There by dissenting from SMS communications you will not receive any health campaigns such as flu jab invites or appointment reminders. Patients must be aware that if another person can access their mobile phone then the confidentiality of these communications cannot be protected by the practice.
Post- For patients who have opted out of SMS, a letter may be sent regarding reminders or recalls. Letters received by the practice are scanned into the patient file and forwarded to the doctor to review.
Website- Our website is updated regularly and contains the practice contact details, location, opening hours and information regarding fees and services offered. Our online booking during office hours and also after-hours doctor service details are also available. To book an appointment you must use the portal on the website as this will ask you all the details, we need to solve your medical problem.
Facebook- Our Facebook page has practice information and health promotions. This page, however, is intended for announcements only by Favell Plus Surgery and not for the provision of individual medical advice. This page is not regularly monitored for comments. If you have any queries or questions, we ask that you please contact the practice via telephone.
Avoiding Interruptions During Consultations
Interruptions during a consultation may inadvertently cause a clinician to lose their train of thought. This may lead to a clinical error. Interruptions may breach patient confidentiality if a patient overhears staff discussing another patient.
Practice Team Meetings
Favell Plus Surgery aim to have regular full team meetings, these are usually done on a protected learning time afternoon. Practice meetings are an ideal opportunity to improve staff engagement. They provide an excellent forum for developing and agreeing on policies and procedures within the practice.
All staff should be encouraged to contribute to the meeting agenda. It is important that the minutes of all practice meetings are dated and reviewed for accuracy. Keeping minutes of practice meetings has several advantages:
• it records the organisation’s response to important events and developments
• decisions can be reviewed at a later date to ensure that action has been taken
• members of staff who did not attend the meeting can be made aware of decisions taken
• good-quality minutes demonstrate that an organisation places appropriate emphasis on careful management. This may be helpful in dealing with serious complaints, litigation or external review by a body such as the CQC.