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Filter the letters sent to GPs

What we did

We have two GPs responsible for more than 6,000 patients. In May 2015 we documented every letter we received (electronically and by post) for two weeks and had secretaries code them by the action needed: ‘doctor action’ meant a GP had to act on the letters, ‘doctor aware’ meant the GP just needed to be aware of it, and ‘file’ meant the letter could be filed straight to the patient record without the GP seeing it.

We gave secretaries a protocol, but also allowed them to exercise their judgment. We now run this system, with an audit every six months when all letters are sent to the GP for a week to ensure admin staff are processing the letters correctly.

The result 

Some 70% of the letters can be ‘filed’ straight away. Each doctor now receives around 45-50 letters a week instead of 150-170, saving them each about 20 minutes per day. It is also safer, as GPs aren’t ploughing through a pile of letters and getting decision fatigue.

Five local practices have now adopted our system and I would advise any others wishing to try it to have a week of dry run for staff feedback, followed by several weeks of running all tagged letters to doctors to check safety before going live.

Read the protocol here and the experience of a practice with a similar idea

From Andrew Voase and Dr Tom Milligan, East Yorkshire, who win a year’s supply of chocolate Hobnobs for the practice.

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war on workload back banner 580x60px 2 lr

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Readers' comments (2)

  • The paper journal says that there is access to an on line protocol but I cannot see it. I would like to, sounds a great idea. Can you direct me to it?

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  • Link is above

  • We have done very similar at my practice for 5-6 months now - our secretaries highlight the action/ medication change for us also which is usually buried in the paragraph on page 2 ( how many have I missed before?)- so I feel this system is in fact safer as well as saving time. In future I hope the medication changes can be directed to a pharmacist to implement also!

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