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.
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.
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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20 December 2021
21 September 2021