Patient Access logo

Patient Access is provided by our clinical system supplier. It allows our patients to book appointments, request repeat prescriptions and send doctors secure messages. These messages will be responded to within 48 hours and you must actively log on to view this. You need to register in person at the practice for this service. Please bring a form of photo ID to register.  If you request a prescription and it is rejected please contact us.

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Do you have any compliments, suggestions or complaints about the practice?  We value your feedback.

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We have created an online questionnaire to gain patient views on our services and to target areas of improvement. The questions have been compiled with input from our patient group BPSPLG. We would really value your thoughts.

Appointments

Appointment Information

ROUTINE APPOINTMENTS

Appointments with the GP or practice nurse can be made via reception  or using online booking

Please remember that the majority of doctors appointments are 10 minutes long. This is in keeping with other general practices nationally, and enables us to balance the demand of workload within the surgery.

We ask that if there is more than one issue that needs to be discussed that this can be dealt with within that time. The doctor or nurse may ask you to make a further appointment if he or she is unable to cover all the issues in that appointment slot.

EXTENDED HOURS APPOINTMENTS

We appreciate that our patients may not always be able to attend between the startard hours of 08.30 - 18.30 and we are pleased to offer extended hours appointments:
Early morning surgeries starting at 07.00 on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday
Late evening surgeries finishing at 20.00 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
Saturday morning surgery (09.00 - 11.00 every Saturday) There is not emergency service on Saturday.

TELEPHONE CONSULTATIONS

Many problems can be dealt with over the phone. The receptionist may offer you this option or you can request a telephone consultation with a GP. If your usual GP is at work you can arrange for a call back from them that day, or, if they are not at work, you can arrange a call back for another day.  If you do not have a usual GP, or need to speak to a doctor that day, you can arrange a call back from the "On Call" GP. Please let the receptionist know the urgency of your enquiry. If you wish to discuss results please would you ask to speak to the doctor who ordered the test when ever possible. Please ensure that you are available to speak on that day if  the doctor is unable to contact you they may leave a message asking you to phone back.

EXTRA APPOINTMENTS

If you think that you need to be seen before the next available appointment please contact the receptionist who will help advise of the options or can arrange a telephone consultation with the on call GP.  Please note that appointments that are made on the day for the end of surgery are 5 minutes long.

HOME VISITS

Home visits are intended for the elderly or housebound patients. Children can usually be brought to the surgery. If you think you may need a home visit we ask that you try to call before 11.00 as the GPs will usually try to visit you between their morning and evening surgeries. 

LATE OR MISSED APPOINTMENTS

We are now offering a text messaging service to remind you of your appointment. If you are unable to make the appointment, please call reception to cancel it so we can use that slot for another patient. If you change your mobile number please inform reception.

We ask that you arrive on time for your appointment. If you arrive later than 15 minutes for your appointment then it will be at the discretion of the clinician as to whether they can see you. You may be asked to rebook or wait until the clinician is available. If you know you are running a little late it is helpful for the clinicians if you phone reception to inform them.

CHAPERONE

Read our comprehensive chaperone policy here.

 

MEDICAL STUDENTS PRESENT IN CONSULTATIONS

We sometimes have medical students sitting in during consultations with patients. Reception try to inform patients at the time of their arrival. If you do not wish to have a medical student present, it is quite alright to let Reception or your doctor know, and we will ask them will leave the room while you are seen.
 

Chaperone Policy

Introduction

Balham Park Surgery is committed to providing a safe, comfortable environment where the safety of patients and staff is of paramount importance. A key issue to be addressed is the need for patients experiencing consultations, examinations and investigations to be safe and to experience as little discomfort and distress as possible. Equally health professionals are at an increased risk of their actions being misconstrued or misrepresented if they conduct examinations where no other person is present and must minimise the risk of false accusations of inappropriate behaviour.

This policy presents principles and outlines the procedures that should be in place for appropriately chaperoning patients during examinations, investigations and care. It is largely based on the Model Chaperone Framework published by the NHS Clinical Governance Support Team, in June 2005.

Responsibilities

Guidance on chaperoning is for the protection of both patients and healthcare professionals. All clinicians and others working on their behalf have a duty to consider chaperoning issues as they relate to their work and to work in accordance with the following principles.

Principles of Good Practice

Patients may find any examination distressing, particularly if these involve the breasts, genitalia or rectum (known as “intimate examinations”). Also consultations involving dimmed lights, close proximity to patients, the need for patients to undress and being touched may make a patient feel vulnerable.

Chaperoning may help reduce distress, but must be used in conjunction with respectful behaviour which includes explanation, informed consent and privacy.

Consent

In attending a consultation it is assumed that a patient is seeking treatment and therefore is consenting to necessary examinations. However, before proceeding with an examination healthcare professionals should always seek to obtain, by word or gesture, some explicit indication that the patient understands the need for examination and agrees for it to take place.

What is a chaperone?

A chaperone is present as a safeguard for both parties (patient and healthcare professionals) and is a witness to the conduct and the continuing consent of the procedure.

The precise role of the chaperone varies depending on the circumstances. It may include providing a degree of emotional support and reassurance to patients but more commonly incorporates:

  • Providing protection to healthcare professionals against unfounded allegations of improper behaviour.
  • Assisting in the examination or procedure, for example handing instruments during IUCD insertion
  • Assisting with undressing, dressing and positioning patients

 Under no circumstances should a chaperone be used to reduce the risk of attack on a health professional.

Who may Chaperone?

Chaperones may be termed ‘formal’ and ‘informal’.

Informal Chaperones

Many patients feel reassured by the presence of a familiar person and this request in almost all cases should be accepted. This informal chaperone may not necessarily be relied upon to act as a witness to the conduct or continuing consent of the procedure. Under no circumstances should a child be expected to act as a chaperone. However, if the child is providing comfort to the parent and will not be exposed to unpleasant experiences it may be acceptable for them to stay. It is inappropriate to expect an informal chaperone to take part in the examination or to witness the procedure directly.

Formal Chaperones

A ‘formal’ chaperone implies a clinical health care professional, such as a nurse or a healthcare assistant. This individual will have a specific role to play in terms of the consultation and this role should be made clear to both the patient and the chaperone. It is important that chaperones have had sufficient training to understand the role expected of them and that they are not expected to undertake a role for which they have not been trained for.

Protecting the patient from vulnerability and embarrassment means that the chaperone would usually be of the same sex as the patient. There will be occasions when this is difficult to achieve. If the patient is requesting a male chaperone then a male GP can be called upon to act as the chaperone or the patient can be offered to rebook their appointment with a male GP.

The patient should always have the opportunity to decline a particular person as a chaperone if that person is not acceptable to them for any justifiable reason.     

Training for chaperones

Members of staff who undertake a formal chaperone role should undergo training.

This should include an understanding of:

  • What is meant by the term chaperone
  • The specific details of different types of intimate examinations
  • The rights of the patient
  • Their role and responsibility
  • Policy and mechanism for raising concerns

Introduction of new clinical staff should include the above training.

Offering a chaperone

The relationship between a patient and healthcare professionals is based on trust. A practitioner may have no doubts about a patient they have known for a long time and feel it is not necessary to offer a formal chaperone. However this should not detract from the fact that any patient is entitled to a chaperone if they feel one is required.

It is good practice to offer all patients a chaperone of the same sex for any examination or procedure. If the patient is offered and does not want a chaperone it is important to record that the offer was made and declined.   

Staff should be aware that intimate examinations might cause anxiety for both male and female patients whether or not the examiner is of the same gender.

If a chaperone is refused, a healthcare professional cannot usually insist that one is present. However, there may be cases where the practitioner may feel unhappy to proceed, for example where there is a significant risk of the patient displaying unpredictable behaviour, or making false accusations. In this case, the practitioner must make his/her own decision and carefully document this with the details of any procedure undertaken.

Where a chaperone is needed but not available

If the patient has requested a chaperone and none are available at that time the patient must be given the opportunity to reschedule their appointment within a reasonable timeframe (this may include simple waiting in the practice until a member of staff is available). If the seriousness of the condition would dictate that a delay is inappropriate then this should be explained to the patient and recorded in their notes. A decision to continue or otherwise must be jointly reached. In cases where the patient is not competent to make an informed decision then the healthcare professional must use their own clinical judgement and be able to justify this course of action. The decision and rationale should be documented in the patient’s notes.

It is acceptable for a healthcare professional to perform an intimate examination without a chaperone if the situation is life threatening or speed is essential in the care or treatment of the patient. This should also be recorded in the patient’s notes.

Issues specific to children

Children and their parents or guardians must receive an explanation of the procedure in order to obtain their co-operation and understanding. If a minor presents in the absence of a parent or guardian the healthcare professional must ascertain if they are capable of understanding the need for an examination.

In these cases it is advisable for a formal chaperone to be present for any intimate examinations.

In situations where abuse is suspected great care and sensitivity must be used to allay fears of repeat abuse. In these situations healthcare professionals should refer to the local child protection policies and seek advice from the Child Protection Lead/Team as necessary.

Issues specific to religion, ethnicity, culture and sexual orientation

All patients undergoing examinations should be allowed the opportunity to limit the degree of nudity by, for example, uncovering only that part of the anatomy that requires investigation. Some patient’s ethnic, religious, cultural background and sexual orientation can make intimate examinations particularly difficult. For example, Muslim and Hindu women may have a strong cultural aversion to being touched by men other than their husbands, or a lesbian woman or likewise a gay man may possibly have an aversion to intimate examinations being performed by the opposite gender. These considerations should be taken into account and discussed, not presumed. We must recognise that each individual has very different needs and before the procedure these should be mutually agreed with the healthcare professional.

Issues specific to people with learning difficulties and mental health problems

For patients with learning difficulties or mental health problems that affect capacity, a familiar individual such as a family member or carer may be the best chaperone. A simple and sensitive explanation of the technique is vital. This patient group is a vulnerable one and issues may arise with physical examination.

Adult patients with learning difficulties or mental health problems who resist an examination or procedure must be interpreted as refusing to give consent and the procedure must be abandoned. In life-saving situations the healthcare professional should use their clinical judgement. Where possible the matter should be discussed with a member of the Mental Health Care Team.

Non English speaking patients

In the situation of a non English speaking patient being examined the use of an independent interpreter should be enlisted. The use of a formal chaperone may still be appropriate with the interpreter in the room. A family member or interpreter should not be used as a formal chaperone.

Sedation

Should a patient require sedation for a particular procedure then it is mandatory that a chaperone must be present throughout and whilst they have fully recovered from the effects of the sedation. This is necessary because not only is the patient rendered more vulnerable, but also their understanding of events or recollection may be impaired. Hallucination may also occur.

Lone working

Where a healthcare professional is working in a situation away from other colleagues, for example during a home visit, the same principles for offering and use of chaperones should apply. The healthcare professional may be required to risk assess the need for a formal chaperone and should not be deterred by the inconvenience or complexity of making the necessary arrangements. In all instances the outcome must be documented.

Patient confidentiality

In all cases where the presence of a chaperone may intrude in a confiding clinician-patient relationship their presence should be confined to the physical examination. Communication between the healthcare professional and the patient should take place before and after the examination or procedure.

Communication and record keeping

The key principles of communication and record keeping will ensure that the healthcare professional and patient relationship is maintained and act as a safeguard against formal complaints, or in extreme cases, legal action.The most common cause of patient complaints is the failure in communication between both parties, either in the practitioner’s explanation or the patients understanding in the process of examination or treatment. It is essential that the healthcare professional explains the nature of the examination and offers them a choice whether to continue. Chaperoning in no way removes or reduces this responsibility. Details of the examination including the presence or absence of a chaperone and the information given must be documented in the patient’s clinical record. The records should make clear from the history that the examination was necessary. In any situation where concerns are raised or an incident has occurred this should be dealt with immediately in accordance with the Incident Reporting Procedure. 

Online Booking

As an alternative to booking appointments via reception, you can use the online booking system.  We encourage our patients to use this as we hope this service will be more convenient to you, and also give our reception staff more time to deal with other enquiries.

To use this service please register at reception - you will need to provide photographic proof of identification (Passport, Driver's licence, National ID, Employee ID). The receptionist will then provide you with registration details. Once you get the registration details you will need to Activate your account here.

If already registered click here to log in and book an appointment.

Please note, these appointments are NOT for medicals, cervical smears, baby checks or any procedures requiring an extended appointment. Currently, it is not possible to book a nurse appointments online. If you are in doubt about using this service please telephone the surgery.

We reserve the right to deny access to the online appointment system to any patient who abuses the service. Please ONLY book one session per person.

We take the security of our patients’ information very seriously. We ensure that the information you provide when using the internet appointment booking facility is protected.
 
Online access also enables you to order repeat prescriptions and send non-urgent secure messages to doctors. They will be responded to within 48 hours, the response can only be viewed by actively logging in to your online account.

 

Out of Hours

111

Along with other local practices, out of hours services are provided by an organisation called Harmoni. You can contact Harmoni on 111 when the surgery is closed.  


Calls to 111 from landlines and mobiles are free of charge.

Call 111 if:

  • you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • you think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
  • you don't know who to call
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next


For immediate, life-threatening emergencies, continue to call 999.

For more information on the NHS 111 service go to: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/Emergencyandurgentcareservices/Pages/NHS-111.aspx

For information on other out of hours services (eg. urgent care service at Balham Health Centre, Walk in Centre in Tooting, Minor Injuries Unit in Roehampton) please go to Local Healthcare




Receptionist Booking

To make an appointment with a GP or a nurse via reception, please telephone 020 8772 8772 or ask at reception.  If more than 1 person needs to be seen, please book a separate appointment for each individual.

You can usually choose which GP you would like to see. At Balham Park Surgery, we try to enable patients to see the same doctor whenever possible as we believe that this provides patients with better care. This is particularly helpful if you are presenting with something that you have already consulted about. Sometimes it might not be possible or appropriate to see the same doctor, for example if the doctor is away and if you feel that your problem cannot wait, or if you are advised to see another doctor in the surgery who has a special interest and skill in a specific area. The receptionist will advise you if needed.



NHS 111 Service



NHS 111 Service

If you have any problems accessing the NHS 111 service by dialling 111 please dial 0203 402 1125 instead.