I am a GP. It’s a great job, with a variety of work. With such a diverse workload comes a busy day; we see lots and lots of people, with a multitude of conditions. After you’ve been established as a GP for a while, the job gets even busier. That is where managing the appointment book is crucial being able to continue providing an excellent service.
As the appointment book fills up and waiting times increase, it becomes increasingly helpful to manage patient demand. This is when it is important to consider whether patients actually need to attend when they book an appointment.
It was at this point in my career that I started to analyse why patients were attending. I started to see patterns emerge. Patients would attend for a medical certificate online, a carer’s medical certificate or a renewal of referral amongst other minor paperwork type issues.
All that I want to do is really help people when they need it most. That means giving them an appointment when they really need one. With a full book it often means we are turning away people when they are sick. At the same time we see people who require a medical certificate because the employer demands a medical certificate even for short-term illness. Often these individuals did not feel they needed any treatment from me, they just came to keep the employer satisfied.
As a GP my job has always been to solve problems; and it seems to me that the most natural solution to this problem is to be able to provide a medical certificate online where a patient does not feel they need to see a doctor. Provided this is done in a safe and ethical manner, this is an excellent set of solutions to multiple problems: reduced taxpayer funds used in funding GP appointments, saved patient time to focus on recovery, reduced transmission of infective illness in the GP surgery and better satisfaction for doctors in being able to provide access to those patients who need it most.
So by providing an online medical certificate I feel I am doing my best to help all the patients who need to see me in the most efficient possible manner.
By Dr Sachin Patel