Appointments

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Appointments System

Message from your local NHS about help and support available from GP practices 

 

  • All the healthcare staff working in general practice are facing a big increase in demand for their services, so your patience is really appreciated. 

 

  • This message helps to explain to you the reasons for some of the recent changes you may have experienced at your local GP practice.

 

GP services are busier than ever before, delivering more appointments but in a different way.

We are sorry to hear the experiences of people who are finding it difficult to get through on the telephone or who are unhappy with the types of appointment offered. If you need to see someone in person, you still can. We appreciate your patience during this difficult period.

Why are things different from before the pandemic?

Official data suggest that up to 1 in 50 people in England have COVID-19, so infection control remains a high priority especially in healthcare settings where there are sick and vulnerable people. To keep patients and staff safe we need to avoid crowded waiting rooms as well as to carry out cleaning between patient consultations and so it isn’t feasible for practices to see as many people in person as before the pandemic. If we can meet your needs by a telephone or video call this could be safer for you and others and can often be quicker and more convenient.

Currently around half of appointments are in person. Your GP team will make sure they arrange these types of appointments when needed. Your GP practice team is working hard to make sure that you get the same high standard of care whether you receive help on the phone, by a video call or in person.

With practices now doing more work over the phone, and due to the increase in the number of patients seeking help from their GP, including for vaccination queries (flu and covid), unfortunately some patients are finding it harder to get through and are facing long waits. We know this is frustrating and can be disruptive for you. We are really sorry for this and are working hard to improve your experience when contacting your GP practice. 

Please do continue trying to get through to the practice on the phone when you need to and continue to use alternative ways of contacting your practice, such as filling out a secure web form (e-consult) from your GP website [link to form on website]

Helping you get the right appointment for your needs 

The reception staff are trained to support you to get the right appointment for your needs and sometimes you might be asked to give information that you would prefer not to share with someone other than a doctor or health professional. It really does help to have this information in order to arrange the right appointment for you.

You may be offered an appointment with a different trained professional who works at the practice rather than a GP if this is the best person to help you. This might be a nurse, a paramedic, a pharmacist, a healthcare assistant or a physiotherapist.

We know that most of you will continue to treat your practice staff with courtesy and kindness. This is really important for all the staff at your practice and they appreciate it. 

Thank you for your patience and support during these difficult times for everyone.

 

The surgery has a computerised appointments system. Appointments may be made in person at the reception desk, by telephone and online via the link at the top of this page if you are registered for the service. 

 

Please book well in advance for routine appointments. Telephone lines are busiest before 10am. Sometimes it may be necessary to wait before your call is answered as there may be several calls queued.

If your problem is urgent you will be assessed as an emergency, though possibly not by your usual doctor.

Getting a face-to-face appointment

 

We would like to thank all our patients for their patience and support over what has been a challenging year for all.

The practice has remained open throughout the pandemic and seeing our patients is important to us. However, like other services we have to operate in a different way that is safe for you and our staff.

To make sure you get the appointment you need with the most appropriate health professional, we ask that you bear with us a little longer. We are experiencing a high demand for appointments which means it may take longer to get through to us on the telephone.

When we speak to you on the telephone, our receptionists need to ask you about your medical enquiry. They are trained to understand what you are calling about and who may be best placed to help you and how. Your call will be confidential. You may be offered a telephone or video consultation if appropriate. The appointment may be with a GP, nurse or another health professional who is best suited to speak to you about your specific medical enquiry. You will be offered a face-to-face appointment if appropriate.

Social distancing and hand hygiene guidelines are still in place, so we need to make sure the face-to-face appointments we offer you are done in a safe way.

Please also remember you can call NHS111 or see your pharmacist, who may be able to offer you advice and treatment for minor illnesses without an appointment. They will ask you to call us if they think you need to speak to a doctor.

Please be kind to our receptionists.

Thank you.

The Market Square Surgery Practice team.

Appointments Policy

Each day we have routine appointments that can be booked  in advance for patients wishing to discuss non urgent problems at a specific time. These appointments are allocated on a first come first served basis. 

The surgery offers extended hours on Thursday evenings to make it easier for those patients who cannot attend during office hours due to work commitments.  

The remaining appointments are held for patients that telephone on the day. Patients are requested to call at 8.30am on the day they wish to obtain one of these appointments.

We try to make sure all emergencies are seen on the same day. If all the appointments have gone then the doctors are informed of the emergency and they may decide to give an extra appointment as per clinical need. 

Whilst our system will suit most people we do realise that it may not suit everybody. Any suggestions will be welcomed and patients can help by cancelling any unwanted appointments at the earliest possible opportunity. 

Telephone Advice

Doctors and nurses are available for telephone advice when absolutely necessary but staff have been instructed not to disturb consultations with non-urgent calls.

It will be usual for a receptionist to take a message from a patient for a doctor’s or nurse’s attention at the end of the current surgery.

Evening & Weekend Appointments

You can now see a GP or another healthcare professional on weekday evenings and weekends. To book an appointment, please call the surgery. To find out more about the service, including the treatment centres where you may be seen.

These appointments are sometimes delivered by local healthcare providers who we work closely with.

Our current providers are Stellar Health Care and Herts Urgent Care.

If you have booked an evening or weekend appointment in West Essex via your GP surgery and need to cancel or change it, please ring NHS 111 and select option 3.

Home Visits

If possible please try to telephone reception before 10am if you require a home visit.

A doctor or nurse may phone you back as it may be that your problem can be dealt with by telephone advice, or that it would be more appropriate to send a nurse, or indeed arrange a hospital attendance.

House visits are only available for patients who are housebound because of illness or disability.

Please remember that several patients can be seen in the practice in the time that it takes to make one home visit. There are also better facilities for examining and treating patients at the Health Centre.

Cancel an Appointment

It is important that you inform the reception staff if you are unable to attend your appointment, as this will allow that appointment to be offered to another patient. 

You can also complete our appointment cancellation notification request form. This can only be used if your appointment has been arranged for more than 24 hours in advance. (Excluding weekends and public holidays). You can also text to cancel your appointment.

Late For Your Appointment

Please attend your appointment on time. If you are late you may not be seen. If you are not seen you will not be able to rearrange your appointment until the next working day, except in the event of a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.

Interpreter

If you require an interpreter to attend with you when you see your Doctor please notify the receptionist and she will arrange this for you.

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