“There is not a lot of clear guidance about what to do…” Practice Manager, Sandra Connolly
Published 22nd February 2019
Safe Surgery case study: Beckett House Practice, Lambeth, London
“Patients often come back to the practice when they’re struggling to get help elsewhere in the system and not just in the NHS, but also government services such as housing and benefits services, as they tend to have more of a relationship with us”
Beckett House Practice, in Lambeth, London, was one of the first Safe Surgeries to come on board last year. Our GP Champion, Dr Katherine Taylor, spoke to Practice Manager Sandra Connolly about their experiences of providing care in their community.
Beckett House has had an inclusive patient registration policy for a long time, which didn’t require patients to produce documentation to register. So for them, the decision to become a Safe Surgery fitted well with their ethos of making the registration process as straightforward as possible.
Despite this experience, the team found the in-practice Safe Surgeries training useful to inform them about good practice for healthcare access, in a format that was easier to understand than all the complex guidance out there.
Reflecting in particular on challenges around registering patients with no address, Sandra explained how her practice tried to strike a balance and prioritise access overall:
“There is not a lot of clear guidance about what to do with people where there is difficulty putting an address down, so some practices use the surgery address… Usually most people have some sort of address, e.g. support centre, hostel, a friend, or someone they can put down, but I think it is quite a challenge to keep in touch with those patients to make sure you can contact them in an emergency.”
Sandra also underlined how valued good face-to-face interpreters were to her practice’s work:
“Having good face to face interpreters available is important to us. There is a big push towards more phone interpreting, which is good to have in emergencies but trickier in day to day consultations”.
In terms of registering patients without proof of ID or address documents, Sandra emphasised that her team had not found this difficult to implement at all:
“In fact I can’t recall an issue we’ve had with a patient, or when their not having produced ID at reception has caused a significant problem.”
In fact, as a Practice Manager she found that not insisting on document checks was beneficial not only to patients, but to her reception team too:
“It takes the pressure off receptionists, around checking documents and trying to verify IDs and entitlement: that’s not really their expertise and it’s quite a difficult position to put them in, to have these conversations, so I think our receptionists vastly prefer not having to deal with those issues.”