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How to plan for winter in your practice

1. Get your flu immunisation rate as high as possible

Get on the phone and do all you can to persuade patients to come in for their flu jab. It’s cost effective to get a member of staff sitting on the phone, asking patients about this. Have GPs and nurses check records to see whether eligible patients have had their jab and if not don’t let them walk out the door without one.

2. Plan annual leave carefully

Avoid having clinical and admin staff on leave at the same time. Your staff may want to use up leave before the end of the year but you want all staff at work in January and February

3. Increase on-the-day appointments

Be prepared for the third week of January – traditionally the worst week of the year – by increasing the number of book-on-the-day appointments and reducing pre-bookable slots. Also spend longer on some routine reviews where possible, so they don’t use the on-the-day slots later on.

4. Run an emergencies-only service

If things really kick off, consider running an emergencies-only service and stop offering routine appointments as far as possible. If we do have a flu epidemic it has to be emergencies only – practices just have to batten down the hatches.

5. Buddy up with other practices

In the worst-case scenario, where the whole population is ill including doctors and nurses, buddy up with a neighbouring surgery and operate an emergencies-only service using staff that are fit from one surgery and close the other one.

Dr John Allingham is medical secretary of Kent LMC


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