How to seek healthcare advice and who you might see

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Healthcare professionals in Sefton are reminding patients how they can access healthcare at this busy time for all in the NHS.

They are also letting you know about the different members of staff you might see at your GP practice who are there to help, not just your doctor.

Four ways to seek healthcare advice:

  1. Visit your GP practice website and complete a confidential online form during normal opening hours to request advice or treatment. You will receive a response as soon as possible, usually within two working days. Online forms should not be used for very urgent medical problems.
  2. Call your practice to arrange an appointment. You will usually be assessed by a health professional or a member of the practice team on the telephone first, with face-to-face care arranged if clinically needed. If you have a preference about how to access care you can discuss it with your practice.
  3. For urgent issues or out of hours, you can also call the NHS on 111 or go online to seek NHS advice
  4. Download the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions and get health advice, your pharmacy can also help with minor illnesses

Dr Pete Chamberlain, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and local GP, says: “It is still a busy time for GP practices and we are well into our busiest winter yet, we are doing all we can to treat you in the best way possible and are still here for you.

“If you can, we would advise you to complete the online form but we do appreciate not everyone has access to a computer or a tablet and if you have a more urgent healthcare need this might not be the best way to contact us and a phone call may be best.  

“Do be patient and kind to staff, at the moment it may take longer than usual for us to respond to you if your condition is not as urgent.

“The majority of common conditions can be assessed and diagnosed by your GP or a suitable healthcare professional by telephone or video consultation. However, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, if they feel that a face to face appointment is required and it is safe to do so, this will be arranged for you. This is to protect you, your family and loved ones - and GP practice staff from the potential risk of the virus.

We also have our extended hours service across Sefton which means that if required you can pre-book a routine appointment on an evening or at the weekend – ask at your practice.”

Often the perception is that patients have to be treated by a doctor. However this is not always the case as doctors within your GP practice are supported by a specialist team of nurses, advanced nurse practitioners, healthcare assistants, physiotherapists and pharmacists.

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG and local GP, said: “Our GP practice teams are made up of a range of healthcare professionals with the expertise to help you with your healthcare needs. You might not be seen by a doctor but this does not mean you will not get the right level of care.”

Depending on your needs, you will be triaged (when an assessment of your condition is made and care prioritised accordingly) and seen by the best healthcare professional for you. This has always been in place but has been vitally important during the pandemic.

Dr Caudwell continues: “The receptionist or care navigator who answers your call or looks at your online form may ask some questions in order to get you to the right person, this is always treated confidentially so please don’t worry about that. The more information you can give them the better so that they can organise a call, video or a face to face appointment if needed with that member of staff.

“We do ask for your support at this busy time, please be patient and we will get you seen to as soon as we can.”

The threat of infection from COVID-19 still exists within our communities, and although face coverings will no longer be mandatory in public places from today (27 January) it is still recommended you do continue to wear them to stop the spread. The UK Health Security Agency's infection prevention control (IPC) guidance remains in place and patients will be asked to wear a face covering and practice good hygiene when visiting their GP practice.                                                         

Your GP practice will already have a process in place for managing entry into the premises to help minimise the risk of anybody spreading the virus. Please continue to follow this.

For more information on how to access your GP practice and to see a day in the life of a GP video and some GP practice staff explaining about their roles, please visit: