How to prepare your practice for the Winter Pressures

With winter fast approaching we see practices across the UK prepare for the winter pressures period. Now is the time to look into how you can make your practice run smoothly over this hectic period. We break down the do’s and don’ts of winter pressures to help you plan ahead.


The all-important “Do’s”


DO – Market immunisations to increase the up-take of flu preventing jabs!
25 million people will be offered the flu jab in the UK with an extra 600,000 children also receiving the nasal spray vaccine. 2018 saw 5,505 people hospitalised due to flu across 24 trusts in England with a shocking 312 dying due to the flu season. By marketing the flu jab throughout the months leading up to the busy winter pressures period you are reducing the risks of flu within your area by increasing the up-take of the vaccine. Although as you know; the flu jab does not 100% guarantee that patients will be flu-free, it has shown to reduce the strain on clinics within the NHS‌ from year to year. Pharmacies and practices across the UK have been marketing the administration of the flu jab from July 2019, ready to administer the vaccine for the Autumn months. We highly recommend a continued marketing campaign for the flu jab to ensure patients are aware that the flub jab is ready and available should they wish to receive the vaccine.


DO – Promote patient use of online services!
Reducing the chances of winter illnesses spreading can be achieved by offering telephone triage appointments and online consultations. Many GP appointments can be dealt with successfully without physically seeing a GP for treatment. 9 out of 10 GP appointments do not require physical examination, meaning they can be diagnosed via phone. By promoting the use of online services, practices are ensuring patient safety by reducing the risk of infection while in the waiting room. The average patient will wait for up to three weeks for a routine, face to face GP appointment. By making your patients aware of online GP services within your practice, you will see your patient waiting times drop considerably. Make sure your patients know how to use online portals and telephone consultations to ensure that the patient is treated successfully.


DO – Encourage patients to use pharmacy services!
Pharmacy services are available for minor health concerns such as; coughs, colds, tummy aches and sore throats. Most patients are unaware that pharmacists have the skills to advise on certain illnesses and dispense the relevant medication without a prescription. Marketing literature can be found for the promotion of pharmacist advice via the NHS to be placed within surgery, this will help to encourage your patients to deal with minor ailments before they become more serious issues.


The “Don’ts


DON’T – Allow patients to waste clinic time!
Ensure patients are aware of other service they are able to use in place of surgery clinics to minimise winter pressures. Should the patient have a minor health concern, point them in the direction of a pharmacist or even book a telephone appointment should they not require an examination. This will free appointments for patients with high demands and medical urgency. Literature can be found on booking medical appointments over the winter pressures period and how it can affect the NHS. Ensure patients are aware of the affects unnecessary appointments have on the NHS during the winter pressure period.


DON’T – Overlook missed GP appointments!
Missed medical appointments cost the NHS millions every year. In 2019 alone the NHS has seen a shocking 15 million GP appointments wasted and declared as “no shows”. The high demand on clinics over the winter does not see this number decrease, meaning your practices time is wasted. Each appointment costs the NHS £30! We highly recommend sending patients SMS‌ reminders to encourage them to either attend their GP appointment or simply phone to cancel and not waste your time!


DON’T – Under-staff your practice!
Over the winter months, AppLocum see the highest demand for Locum healthcare professionals throughout the year. The festive period has always been known to put a strain on the NHS and with AppLocum providing high quality GPs, nurses, health and social care professionals we see the number of clinic requirements rise dramatically. 85% of Locums will see a considerable change in available clinics over the winter months, with shifts becoming available more frequently. We highly suggest looking into providing clinics with the help of Locums to ensure patients don’t have to wait for important appointments.



AppLocum have worked hard over the months leading to the winter pressures period and we are happy to offer you the help of hundreds of Locums across the UK. call us now on 0161 711 0655 to find out how AppLocum can help your practice run smoothly this winter.

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