A new campaign has been launched this week to remind people how to use the GP Out of hours service (GPOOH).
Dr Sandra Elliott, Medical Manager for GPOOH says; “GP Out of Hours is only for patients with urgent care needs that cannot wait until their own GP surgery re-opens. Unfortunately we receive many calls about non urgent conditions. This places huge pressure on the service and means people with real urgent problems sometimes aren’t seen as quickly as they could be.”
The new campaign aims to get this message across using targeted social media, radio and outdoor advertising.
Dr Elliott adds: “People often phone for minor problems such as colds, sore throats sprains, hangovers, headlice, nappy rash, needing repeat prescriptions or even because they were just too busy during the day to contact their own GP service. When GPOOH is misused like this, it can cause delays for someone with a genuine urgent problem. So we are encouraging everyone to wait if you can, and only call us if you can’t.”
How the service works:
GP Out of Hours is available from 6pm to 8am Monday to Friday, all day Saturday, Sunday and on Bank Holidays.
Always phone first on 028 3839 9201.
A specially trained call handler takes the patient’s details and codes the call (Emergency/Urgent/Routine).
The call then transfers to a computerised list which the Clinicians, including GPs Nurses and Pharmacists, work through to prioritise.
A clinician will phone the patient back to make an assessment. About 50% of patients receive telephone advice or may need a prescription but do not need to attend a centre. A minority of housebound patients will receive a home visit and others may be advised to attend a more appropriate service like the Minor Injuries Unit, Emergency Department or the Emergency Dental service.