How GP surgeries are changing to cut the queues and offer better care for all

MILLIONS of patients are treated in GP surgeries in England every month, but the best patient care doesn’t always mean seeing a doctor.

Today, family doctor practices are a competence center and offer a wide range of specialties in addition to the traditional family doctor.

At your service ... You can be treated by a paramedic, physiotherapist or clinical pharmacist instead of a family doctor


At your service … You can be treated by a paramedic, physiotherapist or clinical pharmacist instead of a family doctor

Paramedics handle urgent appointments, but also some routine appointments.

They also make home visits, assess and treat specific health conditions, order tests, and interpret the results.

Physical therapists are also used to evaluate, diagnose and treat a number of complex muscle and joint disorders, which can reduce the likelihood that a patient will need to see a hospital team.

And if deemed necessary, they can arrange for further treatment and specialist referrals.

Then there are clinical pharmacists – they can review medicines and also advise on possible side effects.

Groups of local practices work together to share qualified roles among themselves so that all patients have access to their specialist care.

The priority of the NHS has always been to provide the best patient care where it is needed.

Practices have hired new healthcare and nursing staff, which means more patients get the right help from the right healthcare professionals, first time and faster, as certain medical conditions don’t always require a GP visit.

Because of this, you may notice a change when you contact your local practice, whose receptionists are trained to ask patients detailed questions about their condition or symptoms.

Whether by phone, online or in person, healthcare inquiries are treated with sensitivity and with reception teams working under the supervision and guidance of GPs, patients can rest assured that they are in safe hands.

More than 29,000 new NHS staff have been hired to fill these additional health and care roles.

It will also offer more flexibility as general medicine evolves to better serve the growing needs of local communities.


Call of Duty... Receptionist Rachel Bird


Call of Duty… Receptionist Rachel Bird

RACHAEL BIRD, 41, is Receptionist at Kingswood Health Centre, Kingswood, Bristol.

She has been in her current position for over a year, having previously worked as a receptionist and healthcare assistant for six years.

The practice serves more than 13,000 patients and has a mixed population.

Bird says: “I have a team of 14 receptionists, myself included, and we have all been trained to post the directions using the protocol provided by the GPs.

“We take phone calls and have also recently launched a system on our website for patients to ask medical questions or request medical appointments and clinical advice.

“A work coordinator follows clinical guidelines to assess whether a same-day or routine appointment is required.

“With the information we are able to look at the history and route patients to the appropriate doctors.

“If a patient sends us a clinic inquiry about nerve pain in their leg, we might refer it to our physiotherapist. Patients with rashes, warts and birthmarks may be referred to a local pharmacist.”

Bird says patients are happy with the new online link system because it provides a far better way to prioritize cases and helps alleviate the frustrations of the 8 a.m. rush when phone lines are clogged with people who are trying to book an appointment.

She adds: “Around 70 to 80 percent of patients now fill out the forms online, which saves older people from having to make appointments on the phone and also allows us to take calls for other concerns.”

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Russell Falcon

Russell Falcon is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Russell Falcon joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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