Your GP practice is here for you

Across the Black Country primary care services have changed to meet the needs of local patients.

Find out more about GP services including how to find and register with a local GP.

Find out how local GP practices are working in ‘A guide to primary care in the Black Country’, also available in Easy Read format, or alternatively see below.

 

Modern General Practice 

GP practices across the Black Country have moved to a ‘Modern General Practice’ model to make access to care and treatment easier for patients and help improve patient satisfaction.

Primary care across the country continues to face a huge demand on its services. To manage the increasing demand, the traditional model for General Practice is not sustainable, so to make services fit for the future, they need to be transformed.

As part of this model, many practices across the Black Country have introduced a ‘Total Triage’ system, which enables patients to contact their practice for assistance via a new online form on the practice website.

The form which is easy to access and complete can be used for the following:

  • to request an appointment
  • to make an admin request (for example test results, repeat prescriptions or a fit (sick) note).

Patients will be guided through a series of questions about symptoms or help needed, which once submitted will be reviewed by dedicated members of the practice team. 

Those patients who cannot access a computer or website can still telephone or attend the practice in person to request an appointment or make a request. Those that choose to do this will be taken though the same online form by a member of the practice team who will complete and submit it on their behalf. 

Whichever way a patient chooses to contact the practice, they will receive a timely response based on their individual circumstances and will be directed to the most appropriate healthcare professional based on their need rather than a first-come, first-served appointment allocation.

Please note that at times some practices may temporarily suspend the online triage form to help manage the demand. In these circumstances patients should see the following:

  • a message to advise that Patient Triage is temporarily unavailable and information on when the link will be active again and how to contact the practice another way
  • a message prompting patient to use NHS 111 online, to find a local pharmacy or urgent treatment centre.

What is triage?

Triage is a series of questions about you or your need that helps trained members of the practice team assess you to decide the best type of appointment, this might be:

  • to be seen in person (face to face)
  • a phone consultation
  • a video consultation
  • self-care or help from a community pharmacy or optician.

You can find out more information in our 'What to expect when you contact your GP practice' guide here.

Ways to contact your GP practice

There are three ways you can get in touch with your GP practice:

  • Using an online form on your GP practice’s website. Most practice’s online forms allow you to book routine health appointments, send enquiries to the practice, access self-help guides, request a sick note, and much more.
  • Call during opening hours. Most practices in the Black Country are open during core hours Monday to Friday, 8am-6.30pm.
  • Visit the practice during their opening hours.

Whichever way you choose to get in touch with your surgery, you will receive a response from the practice based on your individual circumstances so you can be seen by the right healthcare professional.

Find out more about ways to contact your GP practice here. 

NHS APP

The NHS App has been designed to provide you with quick and easy access to healthcare advice and a range of NHS services at a time that suits you.

Some GP practices allow you to book a GP appointment or order your prescriptions via the NHS app.

Find out how you can do more with the NHS App here.

Evening and weekend appointments

A range of appointments are available on evenings and at weekends.

Additional appointments will be available between 6.30pm and 8.00pm Monday to Friday, and between 9.00am and 5.00pm on Saturdays for all patients.

You may be offered an appointment at your GP surgery or another location nearby. This may be a:

  • a face to face appointment
  • a telephone consultation
  • a video consultation

To book an appointment between these hours, please call your practice.

If you need an appointment out of hours, please telephone your surgery and listen to the out of hours information on the answer phone message.

Alternatively, you can go to NHS 111 online www.111.nhs.uk or by dialling 111

GP Extended Healthcare Teams

Many GP practice teams now include a range of healthcare professionals who are highly skilled and knowledgeable in the areas they specialise in and are able to diagnose and treat a variety of health conditions. 

If it is most appropriate for you to see a doctor, you will be offered an appointment with a GP. However, the GP isn’t always the best person for you to see.

You can find out more information in our guide to practice extended healthcare teams here.

Local GP, Dr Mohit Mandiratta, explains more about extended healthcare teams in GP practices.

You can read more about the different people that make up our general practice teams in the sections below.

Please note that not all practices will have all roles, as the mix of specialists is decided locally, usually within the primary care network (PCN).

Practice nurses are qualified nurses who like GPs are involved in almost every aspect of patient care and treatment. They will look after patients with long-term diseases such as asthma and diabetes, offer health screening, and also hold specialised clinics such as travel immunisations, baby immunisations, wound care, and women’s health for smear tests and contraception advice.

Meet Terence, one of our advanced nurse practitioners

 

Health care assistants (HCAs) work alongside the Practice Nurse to assist with blood pressure and new patient checks, health promotion, urinalysis, weight and height recording. You may also see a HCAs for certain vaccines, for example your flu vaccine.

A Physician Associate (PA) is a healthcare professional who, while not a doctor, works under the supervision of a doctor to deliver care and treatment with the general practice team. Physician associates are medically trained generalists capable of working with patients across a wide variety of conditions. This means they can diagnose and treat adults and children with a range of clinical problems.

Meet Lusekelo, one of our physician associates

 

A GP Registrar is a fully qualified medical doctor, who is undertaking advanced training under the supervision of a practice GP to specialise in General Practice.

A Practice Based Pharmacist is a clinical pharmacist who provides expert advice around medicines. If a condition needs diagnosing, you will usually see a GP first, who may then refer you to a practice nurse or a practice pharmacist. You may see a Practice Based Pharmacist for one of the following reasons:

  • If you have a condition such as asthma, type 2 diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure, a practice pharmacist can discuss the medicines you’re taking to make sure they’re working for you. They can also help you with lifestyle changes to help you manage your condition better.
  • If you are experiencing side effects from your medicines, you can discuss these with a practice pharmacist who will work with you to find a solution, such as changing your medicine or the dosage.
  • If you are taking several different medicines, or taking medicines over a long period of time. The practice pharmacist can help make sure they are working well together and will do a regular review to discuss how they are working for you.
  • If your medicines have been changed after a stay in hospital, the practice pharmacist can help explain these changes and ensure you get the maximum benefit from these medicines.

You may also see a practice pharmacist instead of a GP if you are suffering from a common illness such as a cold, hay fever, diarrhoea or an eye infection. The pharmacist may be able to prescribe medicines to treat your condition.

You will always be referred to a GP, or another health professional if there is a need.

Paramedics are currently working within some GP practices to help ease pressure on GPs and the wider practice team. Paramedics can assess, examine, treat and manage patients of all age ranges with a variety of acute illnesses – those that come on quickly, from coughs, and injuries such as broken bones, to more serious conditions such asthma attacks and heart attacks – as well as chronic conditions, which are long-lasting, like arthritis and diabetes.

Physiotherapists are experts in muscle and joint conditions, also known as musculoskeletal. You may be referred to a Physiotherapists working in or with your practice to provide you with an expert diagnosis and treatment if you are experiencing these types of conditions.

Health Coaches work alongside GPs and other health professionals to educate patients on diet and lifestyle. They work with patients to help them change their behaviour, so they can make healthcare choices based on what matters to them and support them to become more active in their health and care.

Social prescribing involves helping patients to improve their health, wellbeing and welfare by connecting them to community services which might be run by the council or a local charity. For example, signposting people who have been diagnosed with dementia to local dementia support groups. In general practice, social prescribers can take the time to talk to patients about what matters to them and support them to find suitable activities that are a better alternative to medication. They connect people to community groups and services for practical and emotional support.

Meet Matt, one of our social prescribers

 

It is often more appropriate for patients with mental health needs to see a skilled professional, specially trained in mental health rather than a GP, therefore patients may be referred to a Mental Health Practitioner rather than other member of the practice team.

Find the right service for you

It is important to know which NHS services are here for you and which service you should use to get the right support and quickest medical help.

Our local health and care professionals are ready and waiting to provide you with the right help, at the right time, in the right place. All you need to know is which service best suits your needs.

You can find information on pharmacy, dentistry and optometry services in 'Find the right service for you' guide here.  

Help us to help you

Our health services are under enormous pressure, but we are open and here if needed.

You can help us and help yourself by making sure you get the right care, in the right place, at the right time appropriate for your needs.

  • Use your local pharmacy for advice and over the counter treatment
  • Try calling your practice later in the day if you don’t need an urgent appointment
  • Please use online services via your practice website or the NHS App where possible to keep phone lines clear
  • Enhanced access appointments are being provided at GP practices on evenings and weekends, contact your practice as normal to book an appointment
  • If it is most appropriate for you to see a doctor, you will be offered an appointment with a GP. However, the GP isn’t always the best person for you to see
  • Ensure you attend your appointment or cancel it if no longer required
  • Get vaccinated to reduce pressure on services from COVID-19 / flu

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