Category Archives: Ticker Tape

Phone Lines Working 01/09/2022

We are pleased to tell you we can now take calls relatively normally.  For the next 2 weeks most outgoing calls may appear from “number withheld” because staff will be using their own devices.  We are not easily able to transfer calls internally.  For routine issues you may find it easier to use PATCH’s via our website but appreciate that lots of people find this difficult.

Why are we having problems?

BT Openreach disconnected us by mistake last Friday and due to Industrial Action have said they can not repair their mistake until the 14th September.  We have recurrently reminded of them that we are a GP practice looking after over 10,000 patients but have been told this is the best they can do.

What are we doing?

We were due to move phone provider later this month to a full cloud based phone system.  We have accelerated this plan so that we can receive multiple calls but have had to this ahead of proper training and without all the equipment installed.  Calls are now coming through computers.  We would be grateful for your patience and understanding whilst we make this rather painful transition.  Please be reassured looking after you remains our first priority.  We should have our new phone system with new functionality and everyone trained by the last week of September – we can’t move faster than BT take to repair their mistake.

Thank you, on behalf of all the team at Park Medical Centre.

Dr Robert McLaren

****Phone Lines Down 30/08/2022 31/08/2022****

01/09/2022 UPDATE: We are back to receiving alls normally but see separate news item for full details

We are very sorry that our phones are not working.  The BT Openreach engineer installing our new system for Surgery Connect on Friday broke our existing system.   They have failed to repair it still and are on strike.  We are chasing them.  We are working with our existing phone provider to redirect all incoming calls to a single mobile (through our usual number) – this will be manned constantly.

To get help you have the following options:

  1. If you can please log your request for help through PATCH’s – please provide plenty of detail to the 4 questions it asks as this will allow us to help you sooner.
  2. We should have a single phone line working by 10.30am 30/08/2022 – if you can’t use PATCH’s please call but be prepared for a long wait.
  3. Please come to the surgery in person and our receptionists will book you an appropriate appointment.
  4. For medication repeats/issues please email the prescription email address:

Apologies again for the inconvenience and stress this is causing everyone.  Thank you for your patience.

Dr Robert McLaren, on behalf of all the team at Park Medical Centre

Digital Consultation and Telephone Improvements

In response to feedback from our patients and to improve the service we provide we’re pleased to announce changes to to our digital platform this month and out telephone service in September


eConsultations moving to PATCH’s


Many of you will be familiar with digital consultations that we’ve been offering for the last 2 years for routine issues.  We are going to trial a new platform for this.


  • From the 8th August we will be trialling a new digital consultation platform PATCH’s instead of eConsult.
  • It will require users to create an account but this means you only have to enter your details once and ensures we can verify who we are consulting with.
  • It typically only asks 5 “open” questions but for it to work we need people to provide a good level of detail in their responses.
  • It also offers a translation service for our non English speaking patients.
  • When we can’t offer the service it will tell you when it is next available


Why offer Digital Consultations and Why are we trying a new Platform?

2 years ago we were one of the first local practices to offer digital consultations via eConsult.  We now receive 40 to 50 requests a day although we can’t limit the number and occasionally get far more.  One of our administrators and GPs deals with these every day.  Whilst we know many don’t like it we have found when we surveyed patients it is consistently popular with some patients.  In our last survey, responded to by 216 patients it was second only to contact by telephone

Survey Image

We do appreciate online surveys will bias those who are likely like online access but they have consistently showed it is appreciated by a significant number.

Subjective feedback in surveys and from conversations also consistently report that people do no like the multiple questions eConsult asks and that it will often not allow people to progress their request due to an answer they have given.  We have increasingly seen people not or misanswer questions to get through the system.  This is frustrating for users and often us when we are unable to resolve issues quickly.  As a practice we have also sometimes struggled with the unlimited requests and have on occasions had to turn the platform off.

We have looked at other digital options and have decided to try PATCH’s.  This works by asking 5 questions and then uses artificial intelligence to prompt users to answer further questions – please answer these.  The number of questions is vastly less than eConsult.  For us to respond effectively it will be critical for user’s to give us details responses.  It also won’t stop submissions even if it appears that someone should seek more urgent health care (but will prompt them to).  Early trials have shown the artificial intelligence to be fairly limited but the programme uses machine learning and this should improve in real time.

The eConsult platform does not allow us to limit the requests which means we turn it off over the weekends and bank holidays when we appreciate can be good times for users to submit requests.  PATCH’s allows us to limit the requests which means we can more safely respond to requests and so we can offer all of the time (initially we won’t on Saturday) and when we’ve received the limit it will advise when the service is next available.

For further detail on how to use see the PATCH’s Guide


New Telephone Service in September


At some point in September we will move to a new Telephone provider.  We have struggled with the reliability of our current provider for some time and apologise for the stress this has caused – it has taken a lot of our time managing it.  We have done a lot of research and are excited to move to a new provider Surgery Connect

We are confident this service is reliable and offers us lots of new functionality to be more efficient and navigate you to the help more efficiently.  Critically it also offers callers a call back queuing system so you can get off the phone and the system will call you back in the order that you have called – we encourage you to use it when me move.

You can get up to date local information about Covid vaccination from our Primary Care Network website here. The main local vaccination site is at the Novotel Hammersmith.

You can book a vaccine appointment by clicking here.

You can get PROOF OF VACCINATION by clicking here and following the instructions.

The practice remains open Monday to Friday. You can contact us three different ways:

Call us

Please bear in mind that waiting times in the call queue are longer between 8am and 10am, particularly on Monday mornings.

Use our eConsult tool

Available from the surgery website, you can use this to request a phone consultation with a GP, or request a repeat prescription, or other admin request. The tool has self-help guides in it and helps the practice by collecting a history in advance of you speaking to the GP

Walk in

If you have a general question, you can pop in. Please note that we are not able to book an appointment on the spot if you walk in because we need to maintain social distancing in the waiting room. If you need an appointment, please call us, or use eConsult.

With the recent progress in the vaccine programme and large reduction in Covid hospital admissions, from 1 May we have started a process of moving back towards predominantly face-to-face appointments. Initially, though, this transition will be gradual whilst social distancing regulations in GP practices remain in force.

Across our Primary Care Network, we surveyed all adult patients in April and received 900 responses. This clearly showed that all three methods of access described above are popular and we intend to ensure that all three remain open so that patients can use their personal preference.

Please remember that the surgery remains very busy. In addition to high levels of daily demand:

  • We must “catch up” with all the patients with a long-term condition who need monitoring
  • Other parts of the NHS are under great strain which means there is more admin for us chasing up referrals and other clinical matters for our patients

Until the regulations around NHS infection control for GP surgeries are updated, we will still mainly carry out new problem consultations by phone first. The doctors already call patients in for a face to face when they need to be seen, and this will continue. For some patients phone and video consultations are difficult and we will try and skip the phone consultation in these cases where we can. Face to face consultations are preferred by a lot of patients, but not all. They are also more effective from the doctor’s point of view, but some conditions can be dealt with just as well on the phone, saving a trip to the surgery.

Ultimately, we will be led by our patients, in the context of infection control and social distancing requirements. That way we can maximise effectiveness, convenience, and safety.

COVID-19 Vaccination Status and the NHS App

From 17th May 2021, people in England who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can demonstrate their vaccination status for international travel. A full course is currently two doses of any approved vaccine. Vaccine status will be available from:

It may take more than a week for your identity to be checked and verified so you can use these services.

If you cannot access these online services, and you have had 2 vaccines, you can request a paper letter from the NHS by calling 119. Only call 119 if you had your second dose more than 5 working days ago. It may take 7 working days for the letter to arrive.

The practice is not able to provide you with a letter that shows your COVID-19 vaccination status.

When you’re planning your travel, check the latest information on demonstrating your COVID-19 status when travelling abroad on the website. Make sure there is time to get  proof of your vaccination status before you leave.


COVID-19 vaccine

The NHS is starting to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine, in line with the government’s priority list of which people will get it first. This is a very exciting development and we want to be clear about how it will work for local people. The NHS will get in touch with you directly when it is your turn to be vaccinated. Please don’t contact your practice, doctor or the NHS asking about vaccination; this is not a service that you are able to book in advance. You will be contacted when it is your turn to be vaccinated in the weeks and months ahead.


So please remember:


·        Don’t contact the NHS to seek a COVID-19 vaccine, we will contact you when it is your time for the vaccine

·        When we do contact you, please follow the information given to know when and where to get your vaccine

·        Keep your appointment once it is made

·        The vaccine is safe. The NHS only offers vaccinations to the public once experts have signed off that it is safe to do so

·        Vaccine centres are being set up across the eight boroughs of NW London over the coming weeks.  We are getting everything ready so we can start vaccinating as soon as we start receiving the vaccine

·        We will vaccinate in order of priority, following national guidance

·        Please continue to follow the national public health guidance to control the virus and save lives – Hands – Face – Space.


COVID-19 is still very prevalent and highly infectious: the risk of catching it is the same as ever for people who have not been vaccinated.


There is more information about the COVID-19 vaccine on both the Government and the NHS websites, please take time to click on these links and read through these pages if you want to find out more.  

Prescribing Incentive Scheme

In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569m on items available OTC.

The NHS is asking we reduce our prescribing of these items. If there is a reduction in spending on treating conditions that are self-limiting or which lend themselves to self-care, or on items where there is little evidence of clinical effectiveness, resources can be used for other higher priority areas that have a greater impact for patients, support improvements in services and/or deliver the transformation that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

NHS England (NHS E) has produced guidance on prescribing in primary care of items which are available OTC for the treatment of conditions which are self-limiting or which lend themselves to self-care.

The guidance ‘Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care is found below: