A practice manager’s view from a GP Surgery during COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect our everyday lives, more and more practices across south east London (SEL) are embracing new ways to work flexibly to make sure patients continue to get the best possible care.

One GP practice were able to set up the new solution rapidly after watching the online webinar, and this is how they did it.

How were you operating before the crisis?

‘Having this solution meant that we were able to carry on as normal’

“Prior to the crisis, we were already using an online booking solution which diverted traffic away from the phones. However, we were still receiving approximately 200 - 500 calls a day which were being handled by receptionist and administrative staff.”

What happened after the lockdown and what changes did you make?

“We had a high number of the practice receptionist and administrative staff off sick or unable to come into the surgery

to work due to self-isolation measures and this meant that there were less staff to answer calls. To help mitigate the issue, we attempted to use our current telephone provider to help us introduce a remote telephony solution. Unfortunately, this solution was complex and cumbersome. In addition, because practitioners had to call patients using their personal phones, using a withheld number, many patients were not answering their phones.”

“When Our Healthier South East London (OHSEL) announced that they had procured a flexible telephony service and remote working tokens, we decided this would be the best way forward. Having read the manual to understand the initial set up on how it all works, we attended a webinar with live Q&A questions at the end. This provided us with all the information we needed to confidently ‘go live’ with the solution the very next day.

“Our staff had no problems downloading the UC-Connect app and it was compatible with everyone’s mobile devices.”

What difference this made to patients and the staff?

“Interestingly, because the surgery was already utilising an online booking triage appointment system and due to the seamless implementation of UC Connect and RAaas the change was not detected by many patients as it did not change their interaction with the surgery. However, a benefit of introducing this solution is that when calling a patient, the app routes the calls via the practice’s number which means that patients are more likely to pick up the call and their care is not delayed. We are able to carry on as normal, reporting and monitoring: received calls, missed calls and waiting times, as well as monitoring the number of calls attended to by remote working staff and by staff in clinic – which has helped us with case load management and the management of patient complaints.”

“The introduction of this solution also means that if a member of staff is well but self-isolating, due to a member of their household being ill, they can still work remotely and would not need to take time off work. This new way of working has been positively received by staff as it allows them more flexibility.”

“The surgery is now working predominately using online bookings, video and phone consultations.”   

How to sign up

For further information, or if you have any questions about remote working during COVID-19, or would like to share your experience of remote working contact:

Dean Holliday – souccg.digital@nhs.net

Top tips from the Practice Service Manager:

  • Look at the manuals
  • Watch the recorded webinar
  • Assess if all your staff in the Practice and at home have an internet connection
  • Give yourself some uninterrupted time to set it up and include everyone appropriate in the ‘call centre’
  • Test the app before you go live and inform staff when it’s happening (this will need to be scheduled with your current telephone provider).
  • Ensure that staff members always have their phone charger on them
  • Encourage staff to use headphones as it is difficult to type at the same time as answering the calls without them.