The average adult visits the GP up to six times in a year. With the average waiting time topping 32 minutes, your patients will spend a total of 190 minutes per year waiting for their GP appointment. We look into the affect waiting times have on patient satisfaction and how you can improve practice waiting times by up to 47%.

What is the NHS doing?

With the implementation of new methods in which the NHS can reduce practice waiting times, we have seen many systems available all aiming to improve patient satisfaction. From the utilisation of Pharmacists, Physio Therapists and Paramedics through to the use of pioneering technology, practices across the UK are aiming to reduce waiting times and make appointments more accessible. This coincides with the new NHS long term plan, chapter three of the plan focuses on the improvement of quality of care and patient satisfaction followed by the support of staff and relief of workforce pressures in chapter four. By implementing methods in which both patient satisfaction and workforce pressures can be improved we are already focusing on the improvement of practice waiting times.

Working on the reduction of practice waiting times directly improves quality of care. Within the long-term plan, the NHS aims to implement technology in order to reduce waiting times. How can we improve practice waiting times in other ways utilising staff and locums?
The use of locums across practices in the UK has increased by up to 51% showing great success across the board with an increase in patient satisfaction since 2019 being related to the use of locum GPs and Nurses. The use of locums alleviates the pressures felt by salaried members of staff and encourages continuity of care within practices nationwide.

How does the use of Locums improve practice waiting times?

  • Salaried staff are able to see and treat urgent cases. With the implementation of locum GPs and Nurses, practices are able to delegate more minor cases to Locum staff rather than permanent GPs.
  • During pressure periods such as the “Winter Pressure” time, locums can be employed for certain hours, providing extra support only during the times practices require the extra help.
  • Locum staff are implemented for specific amounts of time and are not considered permanent members of staff. This gives practices the opportunity to look at patient waiting times when a locum is present to see how the increase in staff could help improve patient satisfaction.

How can you implement Locums into your practices structure?

  • Delegation! The use of delegation within the practice will improve waiting times. In order to implement this process, delegate minor cases to Locums. This allows salaried members of the team to treat patients with more urgent or ongoing cases relating to continuity of care.
  • Manage the capacity! For instance, do not take on an excessive number of patients thinking the Locum will rush through them. Locums are employed against terms and conditions, one being the length of appointment times. With the average appointment for Locums lasting 10 minutes, ensure your Locums have sufficient enough time to treat, write up notes, prescribe and gather themselves before their next appointment. Set a number of patients per AM and PM clinic to ensure capacity is not exceeded.
  • Ensure you still lead the Locums. They are in your establishment and you will need to manage and lead as you would a salaried member of staff. Make sure they know who the Practice Manager is in case they need to request help with anything.
  • Ensure the Locum knows how to use all equipment and systems. Make sure the Locum is aware of the system you use within the practice to ensure the day goes smoothly.
  • Use a reputable agency! AppLocum always ensure you get the best Locum for the position you have within your practice. Our team of dedicated recruitment advisors spend time with the Locums getting to know their skills and specialities as well as their personalities. It is important you have a smooth transition and easy experience with the Locum you employ for the shift. AppLocum are on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that you have the help and advice you need when you need it. Our clients always come back to us and we often have the same Locums used for the same sites, this is how you know we provide first class customer service.

How can you personally improve practice waiting times?

  • Use clinical priority. This applies to practices in Urgent or Out of Hours Care clinics. Implementing a clinical priority list will ensure all patients needing urgent care are seen with priority over those seeing a doctor for very minor cases. You can implement this by applying a traffic light system upon booking. This can also be arranged into the longest waiting patients being seen and treated first in a triage system.
  • Ensure all members of staff understand that the patient’s interests are paramount. This will mean all members of staff work time efficiently with a high quality of care.
  • Patients should be made aware of waiting times in overrun clinics. If your clinic is running behind ensure the patient is aware.
  • Implement consequences with regards to missed appointments. If patients do not attend a booked appointment, they must be made aware of consequences. Ensure patients are made aware of the cost on the NHS and next steps should they miss various appointments.
  • Ensure doctors and nurses in clinics are not interrupted. Recent studies show that the main cause for practice waiting times is inappropriate pauses to work on GP and Nurses behalf. This of course causes frustration for all including the patients. Ensure clinicians are only called upon in absolute emergencies.

We can’t wait to help you!

Here at AppLocum we are proud to offer the best Locum support for your practice waiting times. If you feel your practice will benefit from implementing Locum support, you can contact our dedicated team via telephone or email. You’re here for your patients, we are here for you.

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