Practice Manager Daryl George tells us about how the pandemic has impacted their way of working, resulting in positive changes
While keeping patients and staff safe during the COVID-19 outbreak has been the top priority of Practice Manager Daryl George and her team, patients at Luton Town Centre surgery will also have noticed a number of changes in recent months which did not have anything to do with the pandemic.
Over the last year, she and her team have changed many of their processes to make them more accessible and efficient. “COVID-19 has really helped us move our services online. In the past, we used to ask patients to come in and request their repeat prescriptions in person for example. Especially if you’re elderly, that can be a bit of a hassle. Now with the pandemic, it is also quite important that we keep face-to-face interactions to a minimum, so an online prescription service makes perfect sense.” Patients can now request their prescriptions via a virtual dashboard, which they receive access to as part of their registration. “But prescriptions are only one aspect of this move online. Patients are now in more control over their healthcare because the portal they can also access their summary care record via the dashboard, book appointments and order their prescriptions. Many of our patients have given us great feedback about this new system.” While this new way to manage your own health has proven popular with patients, traditional channels such as email or post are also still available for example for those patients who prefer sending a prescription in.
Feedback plays an important role at the practice too. “We’re always learning and improving our offering to patients. COVID-19, even though it’s been with us for a year now, isn’t a normal situation, so it’s really important we all work together – our patients, carers and our colleagues working here – to make sure we can offer the best experience possible under the circumstances. And everyone here is doing their best, from the receptionist to our back-office staff to our nurses and doctors.”
“Online” is a key word now, across the NHS and at Luton. Last year, with the onset of COVID-19 and in line with many other primary care providers, some consultations moved online wherever possible or GPs and nurses spoke to patients over the phone. “Our colleagues who can do so now work from home wherever possible, including our back-office staff.”
It’s been a busy year at the practice, as it has across the NHS, and the team at Luton have really come together to help each other and keep morale high. Daryl herself only joined HUC last year, but had been working ‘on the other side of the fence’ as a commissioner at Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and had played an integral role in the management transfer in 2017. “I love working with our team and having that close engagement with our patients. Everybody here deserves a huge pat on the back – the last year most certainly hasn’t been an easy one for anyone, but we’re always here for our patients and that is our shared ethos.”
The vaccination drive is in full swing at Luton too, which the team are handling with their usual spirit and professionalism. Often this means staying late to ensure everyone in newly released eligible population groups has their appointment booked in.
And the patients appreciate this too. “Getting that praise from our patients is always wonderful,” says Daryl, “and especially recently we’ve had a lot of people saying what a brilliant experience they’ve had. That is a very rewarding feeling for all of us.”