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A day in the life of … our Reception team

Riverside call room

In this panorama photo you can see duty GP Dr Ruthven on the left of our call room, which is located upstairs at the Practice – along with call handlers, team supervisor Lauren, senior nurse Chris and another nurse (Arran) top right, passing on some clinical advice to one of the team

Call handlers, care navigators, admin, Receptionists … whatever the job title at each individual GP Practice, there’s no doubt that the job these teams do is a busy, varied and complex one. At Riverside we tend to use the title ‘call handler’ – while recognising that this only covers half of what they do each day …

Who’s who

The team is made up of our senior nurse Chris; nurses Sarah & Arran; team supervisors Rachel, Lauren and Kristy; and our highly trained call handlers Gillian, Aine, Leigh, Louise, Victoria, Kirsten, Susan, Abbie, Lynne, Jennifer. Plus Fiona and Elaine, who also do phlebotomy (blood tests). If you’d like to put faces to names check out our team page. The duty GP is also based in the call room upstairs, and is on hand to support both our call handlers and nurses. Practice Manager Una also sits in the room, overseeing the day’s activity along with Chris and our experienced team supervisors.

Our call team is fully staffed within the resource we have available to us and we’re so proud of this hardworking team which sits right at the heart of the Practice. We often say it takes three months to be considered a fully trained call handler – if you read about all the jobs they do below, you begin to understand why!

A day in the life …

There’s a wide range of activity which the team needs to get done each day – they’re the ones who do the often unseen jobs, which keeps the Practice running smoothly. Here’s just a short run-down of what they do:

7am The first members of the team arrive: they check in patients who have come for early morning appointments, while also getting everything ready for morning surgery, allocating GPs to their room for the day, dividing up the pile of prescriptions needing a signature between GPs, filing any information that’s come in overnight from the 111 out-of-hours service about our patients, and entering lab results which have come back into the Practice workflow. We can receive hundreds of test results a day, all of which need to be reviewed by a GP or nurse before the results can be given out to patients.

7.55am The team comes together for a morning briefing to share updates and learnings from yesterday and any announcements for the day.

8am Phonelines open: this is an intensely busy time where appointments are booked primarily with our Practice GPs or the health board’s CWIC team – although with guidance from our triage nurses our Reception team also signpost patients to other primary care services, where appropriate.

These other services can be anything from the pharmacy to a dentist, the local health board’s CTAC nursing team or a physio – or on occasion giving advice to call an ambulance.

It’s all hands-on-deck on the phones at this time, aside from two team members who are downstairs at the front desk – doing everything from welcoming and checking-in patients, to sorting prescriptions for local pharmacies to collect and taking in urine samples our clinicians have asked for. The team rotate tasks throughout the day, spending some time upstairs in the call room, some time on the front desk and some time doing admin work.

After 10am
After 10am we start to get other calls, for example patients wanting to book blood tests and nurse appointments, find out test results, check referrals or request paperwork.

Rest of the day
The team are busy with a range of other jobs, some of which you might not think about at first. These include:

  • Keeping our prescriptions service running smoothly: the team processes requests for around 22,000 medications a month and their job is to print repeat prescriptions off for GPs to sign, or to task GPs to do an ‘acute’ medication if a patient has requested something not on their ‘repeats’

  • Calling patients to book them in for follow-up appointments or tests that have been requested by our GPs, hospital teams or other primary care teams working around us – for example the health board’s CWIC mental health team or our district nursing colleagues

  • Arranging interpreters

  • Scanning information we receive from hospitals and other healthcare professionals into patients’ electronic medical records

  • Handling calls from other health professionals, who might need to speak to us urgently about a patient. We work closely with the health board’s CWIC team, health visitors, district nurses and the local health board’s care home team in particular

  • Checking, responding and managing emails: we get some hundreds of emails a day – anything from a hospital consultant replying to one of our GPs who contacted them for advice about a patient, to photos we’ve asked patients to send in to help our clinical team make an assessment, or updates about patients from local health board primary care services

6pm Our phonelines and the Practice closes, but the day doesn’t always end there for the Reception team. They put our overnight message on the phone and stay until each clinician has finished seeing all of their patients – this can sometimes take a long time if one of the GPs has called an ambulance for one of their patients and are waiting with them until it arrives. Then they lock up … and come back to do it all again the next day!