Frequently Asked Questions

 
  1. Why do you not have a generic email address that I can use to contact the practice?
  2. Why can’t I order prescriptions over the phone?
  3. If I hand my prescription request now, can you have it ready for me this afternoon?
  4. Why does my repeat prescription request keep failing to send?
  5. Can I get 6 months worth of medication at a time?
  6. Why am I being told I need a medication review before I can get more of my medication?
  7. Why will you not allow me to book further ahead in your appointment system?
  8. Why do I have to see a Doctor first? Can’t a nurse just treat my problem?
  9. What does Open Surgery mean – is it a walk-in clinic/why do you need to book me in?
  10. There is a long queue at reception but I only want to check in for my appointment. Is there a quicker way?
  11. Why does my appointment card say 11:21 when I’ve been told the Open Surgery is at 11:15am?
  12. It’s past the scheduled time of my appointment, when will the GP/Nurse call for me?
  13. I’m late for my appointment. Will the GP/Nurse still see me?
  14. Will you ever be open at the weekend?

1. Why do you not have a generic email address that I can use to contact the practice?

Presently the practice does not have the staffing resources that it would need to monitor and deal with the emails that would come through a generic email address, while still trying to maintain the high standards we set ourselves to communicate with patients on the phone and coming through the front door.

Inevitably the address would also be used to request clinical advice from our doctors and nurses, which we would be unwilling to give without being able to conduct a proper consultation in person, or over the phone.

As well as that, the NHS Lothian health board does not currently permit the transmission of confidential or sensitive data (including person identifiable data) via email:

Currently email communications with patients remains inappropriate as email does not provide adequate security for confidential correspondence

There are several ways in which you can communicate information to us electronically, which are listed in our Contact Details page, but if you have a question about the services we provide that isn’t answered in this website, or if you need clinical advice, please call us on 0131 228 6081, or come in to the practice.
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2. Why can’t I order prescriptions over the phone?

We consider this to be a safety issue. We take the prescribing of any medication seriously, and require any requests for repeat medication to be done in writing. This helps to minimises the potential errors that could occur through miscommunication over the phone.

There are a variety of ways you can request your repeat meds: Using our website form, by ticking the relevant items on your prescription counterfoil, and handing it in, or mailing it to the practice, by filling out a repeat prescription request form available from reception, or by faxing through your request on 0131 229 4330.
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3. If I hand my prescription request now, can you have it ready for me this afternoon?

We have to deal with a very large number of prescription requests every day which we need time to process, meaning our turnaround time has to be a full 2 working days. We ask that each individual patient please keep track of their medications and order more in plenty of time.

That being said, we understand that there can be genuine unforeseen emergencies and in those cases please hand your prescription request in to a member of the team to highlight that it’s an emergency – please don’t just post it through the prescription box as it will be among a pile of dozens and the fact that it is needed urgently could be easily missed.
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4. Why does my repeat prescription request keep failing to send from your website?

There are a few reasons why this could be happening, but by far the most common reasons are:

a. If you haven’t completed all of the mandatory fields – it requires both your name and your date or birth before the form will send.
b. If you are using an out of date or incompatible internet browser – as the software people use to access the internet improves and develops, the older versions of the software become incompatible with up-to-date web pages. It’s important to keep your software updated so that you can continue to access the websites you need and to make sure you are doing so safely and securely. You can read the article we posted on this in 2015 here.
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5. Can I get 6 months worth of medication at one time?

The standard in NHS Lothian is to allow for a maximum of 2 months worth of your medications to be issued at any one time. In the case of some controlled drugs, it’s only possible to get 1 months worth at a time. It may be the same if you have only just started on a new medication and your GP wishes to monitor you more often to ensure you are at the right dose and that there are no side-effects.

There are a very small number of exceptions, such as the contraceptive pill, where you may get 6 months worth at a time.

If you need more that 2 months worth for a specific reason (e.g. an extended holiday) you would need to discuss that with your usual GP. We have telephone consultation appointments available daily, which you can call to book from 9am.
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6. Why am I being told I need a medication review before I can get more of my medication?

When your medication was first authorised to be available on repeat, it would only have been authorised for a limited amount of time (usually no more than a year). Before your medication can be re-authorised for another year you will need to see your usual GP for a “medication review”.

At Bruntsfield we try to keep patients to a birthday month system of reviews if possible as it spreads the workload evenly throughout the year, and make it easy for patients to remember when a review is due.

During your review your GP will ask questions related to the medications you are on to ensure nothing has changed since the previous authorisation, but it is also your chance to ask any medication related questions that you might have. If everything is satisfactory, the GP will re-authorise your medications for another year.

It may be possible for some medication reviews to be conducted over the phone, and you can call the Practice to book an on-the-day telephone consultation any day from 9am. There may also be times when one of the Practice Nurses can review your medications during your annual chronic disease review and they will pass a message on to the GP to re-authorise your meds for another year (e.g. if you are asthmatic and on inhalers).
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7. Why will you not allow me to book further ahead in your appointment system?

We can only allow patients to book so far ahead because we need a certain amount of flexibility with the appointment schedule, and it significantly reduces the pressure on certain GPs who are regularly ‘blocked booked’ weeks in advance. This has helped us with our continuity of care policy, so that those patients who really need to see their usual GP can do so without significant disadvantage to others. We also feel that all patients have an improved access to a wide spectrum of appointments from all the GPs, both at short notice, and within a reasonable timescale for those with recurrent needs.

We do acknowledge that under this system there can be shortcomings for those patients who need to book appointments with the nurses for regular treatments, and are unable to book ahead at the time of their consultation. We regret the inconvenience this can cause patients, but on balance we feel this is a small price for the overall improvement that has occurred.
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8. Why do I have to see a Doctor first? Can’t a nurse just treat my problem?

There are certain issues that we may ask you to see the doctor first, for an initial assessment, before the issue is handed over to the nurses to treat, such as ear irrigations, and wound checks. This is to ensure that there are no underlying issues or problems present that would require further investigation or treatment.
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9. What does Open Surgery mean – is it a walk-in clinic/why do you need to book me in?

The Open Surgery is still a booked clinic, requiring you to make an appointment on the day, but instead of the appointment being booked with a specific doctor, the GPs covering the surgery consult with patients on a first come first served basis.

Because these appointments are booked, we still need you to check in at reception (or by using the self-check in touchscreen) when you arrive for your appointment, and to let us know in some way if you can no longer make, or no longer need your appointment.
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10. There is a long queue at reception but I only want to check in for my appointment. Is there a quicker way?

If all you need to do is let us know that you’re here for your appointment then you can use our self-check in touchscreen to the right of the reception desk to do that. It’s very quick and easy and can save you waiting in a long queue.

Just tap the screen to begin and it will ask you the Month and then the Day of your birth to look through our appointment system for a match in the following 2 hours. If it finds multiple people with the same birthday it will also ask you for the first initial of your Surname. You just need to tap the screen to give your answers.

When it has found your apointment it will display the details for you to confirm they are what you are expecting.

Once you have confirmed your arrival you may find the touchscreen also asks you to confirm your mobile number. The system is programmed to do this if we have checked your number in the last 2 years in an attempt to keep the contact details we have for our patients up-to-date.

After you’re all done you can take a seat in the wainting room – our appointments system will have updated itself to show that you have arrived.

Please remember that whether you do so via the touchscreen or at the reception desk, you need to check in every time you arrive for your appointment at the practice.
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11. Why does my appointment card say 11:21 when I’ve been told the Open Surgery is at 11:15am?

This is simply a quirk of our appointments software. Our open surgeries are organised in half hour slots, with the number of patients we see being three times the number of GPs available (as each GP can conduct three 10 minutes consultations within the 30 minute slot – so if we had 6 GPs available, we can see 18 patients in that half hour). To book patients in for these surgeries we give each patient what only looks like a 1 minute slot, meaning the appointment card we print can display some unusual looking times, but because the open surgeries are operated on a first come first served basis, we ask that you arrive at the beginning of the half hour told to you when you make the appointment.
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12. It’s past the scheduled time of my appointment, when will the GP/Nurse call for me?

While a member of the Patient Services team can let you know if a particular GP or Practice Nurse is running late, I’m afraid we have no way of knowing exactly how long it will be until you are seen. The standard length of an appointment is 10 minutes (with the exception of a few specific types of review that need longer) but some patients will sometimes need a little longer for their consultation. While all clinicians do their best to keep to time there will always be an element of the unknown that means a surgery will end up running late.

One way each patient can help a surgery run to time is to make sure you arrive on time for your appointment (currently around 15% of patients arrive late for their appointment), and if you have mutiple issue to discuss that you book a double appointment to deal with them.
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13. I’m late for my appointment. Will the GP/Nurse still see me?

GP and Practice Nurse appointments are 10 minutes long as standard, so if you arrive 10 minutes late you will be asked to reschedule the appointment.

If you are only a couple of minutes late we may be able to confirm with the clinicians if they are able to see you, so please make sure you check in at reception rather than at the touchscreen.

If you are on your way to the Practice for your appointment and you know you are going to be late, if possible you could be helpful if you can give us a call to let us know. That way the clinician can be informed and may be able to take another patient early and fit you in later.
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14. Will you ever be open at weekends?

Unfortunately we don’t currently have the resources to be able to open over the weekends on a regular basis. We have run a one-off Saturday morning clinic in early October for the last few years just for giving eligible patients their flu vaccination, but that’s it at the moment.

If you do need any medical help or advice over the weekend, you can ask your local Pharmacy, or you can contact the Out of Hours service from 6pm on a Friday to 8am on Monday by calling 111. You can also visit www.nhsinform.scot to read up on a number of health topics and self-help guides. As ever, in an emergency you should call 999.
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