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Dear Patients of Buttercross Health Centre

We are letting you know about an improvement we are making to our appointment system as of Tuesday 7 April 2015.

When you ring for an appointment after this date you will be offered a telephone appointment time where possible, with the doctor of your choice who will phone you back to discuss your symptoms. During that telephone conversation, you will agree with the doctor the best method of dealing with your problem.

Some problems can be dealt with completely in that first telephone call and this will save you the trouble of coming into the surgery. However, if you need to be seen, the doctor will discuss this with you and make the appropriate appointment. If you need to see a doctor you will be given an option of which doctor you would like to see. Sometimes it might be necessary for you to have some tests done before you see the doctor and this can be arranged for you too.

In order to be as flexible as possible, the telephone appointment can be at any time of the day between 8.30am and 5.30pm or during our extended hour’s surgeries which are 6.30pm to 7.30pm. If you have speech or hearing difficulties, please contact us either in writing or by e-mail on and we will arrange an alternative method for you to make an appointment.

 As some of you will know, we have recently started offering appointments on-line. You will still be able to book on-line but this will be for the telephone appointment for the doctor to ring you to discuss your problem. If you would like more information about booking on-line then please contact Reception.

Please see below a ‘Question & Answer’ sheet which provides more information and explains the benefits of the new system. We are confident that this will enable us to provide more flexibility for our patients and ensure that we have sufficient appointments available when you need to be seen.

Yours sincerely

The Buttercross Management Team.

Dr Joanne Cummings (Local Medical Director), Emma James – Practice Manager and Sarah Pearce – Reception / Deputy Manager


New Appointments System – Questions and Answers

 Buttercross Health Centre is changing its appointments system in order to improve the service we provide to our patients. The following questions and answers will hopefully help patients to understand how the system works and the benefits we believe it will provide to patients.


  1. How does the new system work? When you phone for an appointment, you will be offered a time for a telephone consultation with one of the doctors. We will aim for you to speak to the doctor of your choice if that doctor is available. The doctor will then phone you at the given time and talk to you about your problem. Depending on the problem, the doctor may be able to help you over the telephone which will save you the trouble of coming into the surgery. However, if you do need to see the doctor then they will arrange an appointment for you at a time that is convenient to you.
  2. Why have you introduced this new system? Because we want to ensure that when you do need to see a doctor face-to-face you can see the doctor of your choice (if available) at a time that suits you and that you do not have to come into the surgery if your problem can be dealt with over the telephone. By using this new system we will free up appointments with the doctors so that we have sufficient face-to-face appointments available. We can now be more flexible and offer more choice regarding when patients can be seen.
  3. What was wrong with the old system? Some patients still feel that they have to make an appointment to see the doctor for everything, even if someone else in the team could have dealt with this problem. This means that we do not have sufficient doctor appointments for those patients that actually do need to see a doctor. We have a whole team of professionals but it is difficult for the patient to know which person is the right one for this particular problem. Even if the doctor is the right person to see, sometimes patients have a wasted journey, for example if they come in to get the result of a test that is not back from the lab yet or if they need to have tests done before seeing the doctor. This system will offer the patient more choice. We are unhappy about the difficulties patients are having in booking appointments and we just cannot squeeze any more appointments into the doctors’ days. We also have a significant number of appointments wasted when patients make an appointment and then fail to attend.
  4. So can I still get an appointment with a doctor? Yes you can. You will be offered a telephone consultation first and you and the doctor may agree that your problem can be dealt with over the telephone. However at the end of this discussion, if you still want to come in and see a doctor, the doctor will arrange the appointment for you.
  5. What about appointments to see the Acute Care Practitioners? You will be offered a telephone consultation with one of the doctors and then, if it is something that one of the Acute Care Practitioners can deal with, the doctor will arrange for you to see one of them at a mutually convenient time.
  6. Can I make an appointment with the nurse or health care assistant? Yes you can book those without speaking to a doctor.
  7. What if I can’t take phone calls at work? We can offer you a telephone call between 8.30am and 5.30pm or during our extended hours’ surgeries which are between 6.30pm and 7.30pm.
  8. What if I have difficulty speaking or are hard of hearing? We will make special arrangements for anyone who is unable to speak to who has difficulty hearing on the telephone. If you have either of these problems, please contact us either in writing or e-mail us on
  9. What if I need to be referred on to someone else? The doctor will talk to you about what he or she can do for you. If it is something that they know they will not be able to deal with, they may refer you on, for example to the hospital or the physiotherapist. They may be able to do this without having to see you and this will save you a trip to the surgery.
  10. What if it is an ongoing problem and I need to arrange a follow up appointment? Wherever possible, the doctor will make the follow up appointment with you but if this is not possible, for example if you need to check dates at home, the doctor will make a note in your records to say that you can make a follow up appointment without having to speak to a doctor first. When you phone in, let the receptionist know that it is a follow up appointment, they will check your records and then make you an appointment. However, if it is a new problem, you will need to have a telephone call with the doctor.
  11. Isn’t it designed to stop people from seeing the doctor? No absolutely not. If you want to be seen by the doctor then you will be offered an appointment. It is purely to ensure that patients are given a choice of how their problem is dealt with.
  12. What kind of things can be dealt with over the telephone?Sometimes the symptoms are very straightforward and the doctor and the patient may be happy to agree a course of action over the telephone. If the doctor or the patient is at all unsure, then the patient will be offered an appointment. Examples of things that can be dealt with over the phone include recurrence of a previous illness, discussion of some test results and symptoms that have not resolved following a course of treatment.





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