Reception staff in GP surgeries in the Pontypridd to Pontyclun area will soon offer patients a choice of services when they ask for an appointment.
The aim is to help callers get to the right service which can also mean they receive advice or treatment quicker.
Patients are being urged not to be offended if the receptionist asks what the problem is when they call the surgery.
This new ‘care navigation’ system is due to start from September 3 in the Taff Ely area.
Staff have been specially trained to suggest other services that could help patients better, like opticians, pharmacists, dentists, MIND, Department for Work and Pensions, or local authority.
A senior GP at the practice will record a phone message to tell patients about the service when they ring the surgery.
Dr Lisa Thomas is a GP at Parc Canol Medical Practice, in Church Village. She said: “When patients call they will be speaking to our trained care navigators who can direct them to the most appropriate health care service to deal with their problem.
“By giving a brief description of their problem they can ensure they are given the best way to meet their needs because sometimes the GP isn’t the best person to see.”
Callers can still choose to see a doctor but the care navigator might suggest they see someone else that could help them better and provide the right support and care in the first instance. This would help them and other patients.
For example, the Common Ailments Service available from your local pharmacist offers patients access to free NHS advice and treatment for 26 common conditions that cannot be managed by self-care – such as acne, hay fever, sore throat, teething, or constipation.
Patients could be seen and treated quicker by a nurse or a physiotherapist and in some cases, the GP practice might not be the right place at all for the query.
If someone is worried about their sight or has an eye problem they can see a high street optician, also known as an optometrist, as part of the Wales Eye Care Service. Most GPs lack the specialist equipment to examine eyes which an optometrist has.
Receptionist at the Old School Surgery in Pontyclun Victoria Done, pictured, said: “We are looking forward to being able to help patients further and sign post them to the best service, saving time for them and for our GPs.
“I used the advice myself and took my daughter to the optician for an eye problem and she was seen and received treatment within 24 hours.”