Bradford CCGs fund GP receptionists training to improve patients’ experience of primary care

Bradford clinical leaders are funding customer care training for GP receptionists to help improve patients’ experience of accessing care at their local surgery.

The local clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – NHS Bradford City and NHS Bradford Districts – know that that practice staff are committed to giving patients the best service they can but also that working on a busy surgery reception can be tough.

They are responding to patients’ concerns by looking at ways to improve access to local GP services and have now funded customer care training for practices in the Bradford area – to help staff make each patient feel valued and at ease.

As part of their overall aim to improve local health services and patients’ experience of using them, the CCGs have been working with patients and practices to identify the problems people face in getting appointments and suggest how things could be improved.

The customer care training has been running for several weeks and there has been an enthusiastic response from practice staff who are keen to increase the skills they need to deal with patients and improve overall quality at their practices.

Dr Andy Withers, clinical chair of Bradford Districts CCG, said: “Listening to patients and GPs about the shared concerns and challenges experienced in General Practice will lead to better access and use of services. Improving patients’ access to primary care services is a priority for us and that’s why we’ve set up this training.

“GP receptionists are often the first point of contact for a patient so it’s vital they make a positive impression. We’ve had a really good response from local practices to the offer of training and I’m confident that this will further improve staff’s customer service and communication skills.”

While it is NHS England that commissions primary care services, including GP services, the CCG is committed to improving primary care quality and ensuring that the views of patients and practices are heard as part of the local and national debate on improving access.

Feedback shows that patients are frustrated at getting through on the telephone, GP appointment systems and the perceived attitude of some reception staff.

Sharon Barraclough, business development manager at The Grange Practice in Bradford, said: “The benefit of good customer service cannot be underestimated and for many receptionists the favourite part of their job is the interaction they have with patients – however, it’s not always the easiest part.

“Training is vital to what we do ‘on the front line’ and this course recognises the important role every member of the practice team plays in making sure that all patients receive the best quality of care possible.”

Dr Akram Khan, clinical chair of Bradford City CCG, said: “Access to GP services is not just a local issue: it’s national – and it’s so important because if patients have problems accessing GP services it can have a knock-on effect across the whole of the local NHS system. It can result in more people going to A&E or calling the out-of-hours service, when their condition could have been dealt with in the GP surgery or with advice from a pharmacist or self-care.

“Many of our practices are very good at offering same-day contact with a GP or nurse and are being innovative in trying to improve access. It’s great that they will be sharing their ideas with other practices at the workshop and I hope that information sharing and our recommendations from the review will help them.”

ENDS

For further information, please contact the communications team on 01274 237386 or email communications@bradford.nhs.uk