Good communication with your doctor is important. Ideally this has to be easy and accessible, yet confidentiality and data protection is also important. (See our Confidentiality and data protection policy here)
Balancing ease of use with security and confidentiality is difficult and we will work with you to develop and provide the best solutions for the circumstances. Some things are best handled face to face, others may be managed with a note or simple message that can be passed on.
Please understand that even if you do not have to come in person to the surgery, or no treatment is prescribed, these are often substantive and responsible professional services which require facilities and staff time to deliver, so fees may apply.
Face to face communication is the ideal, but requires you to make an appointment and is sometimes time consuming and inconvenient. Obviously the doctor and patient need to meet to conduct examinations. It is the best way to establish a doctor-patient relationship and is often necessary to deal with a problem effectively.
Written notes or letters can be posted, handed in or collected from the reception, it is often a convenient way to give details of test results, medication changes, prescription requests and to provide a prescription or work-note. Written information is routinely handled by non-clinical staff in line with our Confidentiality and data protection policy LINK, but you may wish to place particularly sensitive communications in a sealed envelope marked "for the attention of Dr XX only" so that additional discretion can be applied. Prescriptions still need to be on paper and signed so until there is a change in the law an original physical piece of paper is required.
Normal Email such as Gmail is highly insecure, as it is not encrypted and is routinely read scanned and stored by the service providers (such as Google). While many of us use it as a modern convenience in our daily lives, its use for sensitive medical information is not encouraged and we will only do so on your specific request and subject to our own discretion on a case by case basis.
Text messages are limited and used in line with our Confidentiality and data protection policy.
Telephone calls: Messages requesting a callback can be left with the reception staff, they will seek to establish the reason for the call and any associated urgency. Please understand that they are trying to help you with your concern and give them the information you feel is appropriate. They will treat it confidentially.
Telephone calls are not usually taken by the doctor during consultations, in fairness to the people consulting at the time. We do make exceptions for emergencies, and for calls related to patient care from other health care professionals such as doctors and pharmacists.
Callbacks are usually at the end of the clinic, and will be prioritized according to the urgency. Often we find that patients may not be able to answer the returned call and this can be frustrating for everyone involved. Sometimes (for a variety of reasons) it is just not possible to return every call. The use of voice mail or text messages is not ideal or suitable for complex matters, and again issues of confidentiality arise. Using home telephone numbers is problematic if someone else answers the telephone, as even knowing that the doctor is calling for someone may be breaching confidentiality or give rise to an awkward situation
Please note that in line with Medical Council Guidelines, social media is not considered an appropriate way to contact practice staff. Our policy is not to engage with any contacts of a practice or clinical nature via personal staff accounts. Any such contacts will be disregarded or a generic response issued.
Keep your contact details up to date
It is important that we have the correct contact details for you. Whether because you changed a phone number, moved house, or simply noticed that we have some detail incorrect please inform the staff immediately.