Do I need an appointment with a clinician?

There are lots of conditions where you will be able to get help easily without speaking to a clinician at the surgery.

Making an appointment to discuss minor illnesses, which are often self-limiting (i.e. they tend to get better on their own without a prescription), means that people who really need an appointment struggle to get through. The following are common examples of things which we often find you don't need to speak to a clinician about unless your symptoms are particularly severe, they aren't settling or you feel really unwell. If you are not sure, please check out the links below before you contact us.

(Remember that if you have a new cough you must arrange a COVID test, whether you need an appointment or not)

The NHS App also has a wealth of information which can help you to manage your symptoms.

How do I get an appointment?

Monday - Friday

Please make an appointment by telephoning the surgery between 08:00 and 18:30.  You may also use SystmOnline to book, cancel or amend appointments.

We are currently transitioning to a system where we will be asking you to take responsibility for deciding whether you need a face-to-face or telephone appointment. Please see below for further information about this.

It is vital that you do not attend the surgery in person if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 - this includes having a temperature, no matter what you think the cause is. If you have a temperature or a cough you must get a COVID PCR test (not a lateral flow test that you can do at home). If this is part of the problem that you need to speak to a clinician about then this can be dealt with in our emergency surgery but you would need to be assessed in our HOT clinic so that you are not exposing other vulnerable patients to potential infection.

We recognise the need for emergency appointments and if you have an emergency which means you need to speak to a clinician on the same day we will facilitate this. If so, you may not have a choice as to who you speak to, and we may need to ask you to be assessed by a clinican at the Urgent Treatment Centre at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

For most problems, continuity of care is very important and our receptionists will ask you who you usually deal with. For example, if you need to speak to someone about results of a test it is almost always better to speak to the doctor who arranged the test, even if that means waiting a bit longer to do so.

Booking an appointment

We understand that things have been difficult recently.

The COVID pandemic has been difficult for everyone, for lots of reasons.  A common theme in the media recently is a sense that people are finding it hard to book an appointment with their GP, especially face-to-face. Both nationally and locally it is clear that there has been a huge surge in demand for appointments and we recognise that many of our patients have struggled to get though to reception on the phone.

Our practice has been open every single working day throughout the pandemic and has been instrumental in the phenomenal success of our local COVID vaccine roll-out, protecting the most vulnerable members of our local community from this virus which has been associated with over 128,000 deaths in the UK. Every day, we have been consulting with our patients at record levels in spite of the restrictions we have faced.

Due to COVID, we needed to change the way you accessed care.

Prior to the COVID pandemic we ran an appointment system which was working well and enabled most of our patients who needed an appointment to get one in a timely manner. Unfortunately, it was not safe to continue this system during the pandemic and we moved to a predominantly telephone-based consulting system, arranging face-to-face reviews for those patients who needed them (often the same day). Many people have actually found it more convenient for them to consult us on the phone. Some people have found this more difficult. Unfortunately, this system has left some people struggling to get the appointment they want.

The pandemic is not yet over.

We still need to be careful to protect our most vulnerable patients from potential exposure to COVID, but we know that whilst some problems can be managed on the phone, some are easier to help you with when we can see you face-to-face.

How can we help you to get an appointment when you need one?

We have listened to your feedback and we want to make it as straightforward as possible for you to get an appropriate appointment, if you need one.

On 21st June 2021, we moved to a new appointment system where we will be trusting you, our patient, to decide whether you really need a face-to-face appointment, or whether we can help you with your problem by having a phone consultation.

You can book appointments online via SystmOnline or you can book one by calling and speaking to a receptionist. If you can book one online, this will help those who aren't online to get through on the phone.

However, we ask you to think twice before booking - do you really need an appointment with a clinician?

  • Have you tried speaking to your pharmacist about your problem?
  • Is there something you can get over the counter?
  • Is this a problem that is likely to settle on its own - should you wait before requesting an appointment?

We do not have an infinite supply of appointments and if you use an appointment for something that you didn't really need one for, you are denying someone else that appointment, someone who may really need it.

Can we help you over the phone or do you need to be seen face-to-face?

If you do need an appointment, please think carefully about whether you will get more out of it on the phone or face-to-face. If everyone chooses to be seen face-to-face, we will run out of space in the waiting room and people will be required to wait outside, even if it is raining.

Please think beforehand about what you are going to discuss in your appointment.

All our appointments, whether on the phone or face-to-face, are 10 minutes long. In the past, patients would sometimes bring a list of problems and expect to discuss several or even all of them during their appointment. This leads to clinicians running late. Because of the restrictions on the waiting room, this will no longer be an option - as soon as we start to run late, the waiting room will become overcrowded and people will be required to move outside to wait.

If you have more than one problem, you should decide which one is most important to you and focus on that one problem during your consultation. If you have a list, you can show it to the GP, but you should not be surprised that they will pick one problem for you to discuss. The other problems will have to wait until another day.

If you choose to have a phone appointment, although we will try to call you at the designated time, we may have to be more flexible - you should get a call close to the time you booked but it may be earlier or later, usually no more than an hour either way.

If you have a phone appointment, you should respect the consultation and ensure that you are as focussed and free from distractions as you would be if you came in to the surgery. It is not appropriate to be driving, watching TV or in a public place.

If you have any COVID symptoms, even if you are sure it isn't COVID, you must not come in to reception.

Everyone coming in to the surgery will need to be free of potential COVID symptoms. Everyone coming into the surgery will be asked if they have any symptoms before they check in.

Coming to the waiting room knowing that you have COVID symptoms (i.e a cough or fever or loss of sense of smell), no matter whether you think they are COVID-related or not, is recklessly endangering the health of other patients and staff.

We have measures in place to assess symptomatic patients and there is no reason for anyone displaying symptoms or in contact with people who are displaying symptoms to come into reception.

If you have a routine problem which needs for you to be seen face-to-face, and you develop symptoms, you must postpone your appointment. If you are acutely unwell and have a problem with potential COVID symptoms, we can assess you in our "hot" clinic, if necessary. You will need to check in by phone, and wait in your car until you can be called in, just as we have done throughout the pandemic.

We will require everyone who is waiting in the waiting room to wear a face covering. Even if you are exempt, you may be asked to wait outside, for the protection and comfort of our other patients.

Where will my appointment be?

Especially if you book online, if you choose to have a face-to-face appointment please be sure you know at which branch you have booked. If you turn up to the wrong site, you are likely to miss your appointment. When booking online, please put "F2F" or "Phone" to let us know whether you intend the appointment to be face-to-face or by phone, and please give a brief reason for the appointment - this will help us to help you more effectively.

Not all our apppointments are at Talbot Medical Centre (Kinson Road, Northbourne or BU Medical Centre) - you may be offered an appointment at the Urgent Treatment Centre at Bournemouth Hospital. If so, this is one of our practice's appointments and if you are offered it, you should take it - we will not be able to offer an alternative.

We need to trust you to use this system safely and responsibly.

We are relying on all our patients to act responsibly and fairly in order to make this system work. We will keep this new system under close review and will reserve the option to change it at short notice if it becomes clear that it is not being used responsibly.

No matter how frustrated you are, it is never acceptable to be rude to any of our staff.

All our staff at Talbot Medical Centre work hard to offer excellent clinical care to all our patients. It is never OK to be rude to our staff or to abuse us either verbally, physically, emotionally or psychologically. Anyone who is felt to have behaved unacceptably towards a member of staff will be sent a formal letter from the practice and will be removed from the practice list.

Coming to the surgery - face coverings

If you do need to come in to the surgery, you should wear a mask to help reduce the risk of infection - both the risk to you from other patients but also the risk to other patients from you.

Even if you would ordinarily consider yourself exempt from wearing a mask we would ask you to wear one whilst in the surgery due to the higher risks both to yourself and to other patients/staff from being in a health care setting.

If you really feel that you are unable to wear a face covering whilst inside the surgery building, you will usually be asked to wait outside so that you are separate from other patients in the waiting room.

Emergency Surgery

In order to provide urgent access we run an Emergency Surgery each morning and afternoon, staffed by Emergency Care Practitioners and GPs.

You should only ask for one of these appointments if your problem is too urgent to wait until the next available pre-bookable appointment.

Emergency Surgery Guide

  • This will run every morning and afternoon Mon-Fri
  • Appointments cannot be booked before the day of the clinic.
  • Only 1 problem per appointment. No routine problems will be dealt with during the emergency appointment.
  • No walk-ins, you must have an appointment, as this is an emergency appointment there still may be a wait.
  • Book by telephone, on the day.
  • You will be phoned by a clinician, if face-to-face assessment is required this will be arranged.
  • You may be booked an appointment at the Urgent Treatment Centre (at Royal Bournemouth Hospital) rather than a call from TMC.

When all these appointments are taken we will be unable to see any more patients, you can book the next available appointment. If you feel your problem can’t wait until the next available slot you have several options:

  • see a pharmacist
  • make an appointment at the urgent care centre via A&E
  • access private online GP services, eg Push Doctor
  • 111 (but please be aware that if the 111 advisor recommends seeing a GP the same day, we will not have capacity to accommodate this if you have already enquired about the Emergency Surgery and been told that it is full).
  • A&E  - if you feel your problem requires this sort of urgent assessment. 

Please note our receptionists are unable to give you medical advice. They cannot tell you if your problem is urgent or not. You need to use your own judgement regarding the level of urgency with which you need to seek medical advice about your problem.

Cancel an Appointment

It is important that you inform the reception staff if you are unable to have your appointment, or no longer need advice for that problem. This will allow that appointment to be offered to another patient. If you fail to notify the Practice that you are unable to attend, you will be sent a letter informing you that you have defaulted from your appointment. Persistent defaulters maybe removed from the list.

You can also complete our appointment cancellation notification request form. This can only be used if your appointment has been arranged for more than 24 hours in advance. (excluding weekends and public holidays). You can also text to cancel your appointment.


Home Visits

Home visits are only possible when the medical condition of the patient is such that attendance at the Surgery is impossible. Home visiting is very time-consuming and it is not fair on other patients to request a home visit rather than making an appointment at the surgery, as up to 6 patients can be seen in Surgery during the time a doctor can visit one patient at home. 

Visits are allocated at 11:30 so it will be very difficult if not impossible to arrange a visit on the same day if you call later than this. Visits are usually performed between 12:30 and 15:00.

Situations where home visits are NOT appropriate

Lack of transport - transport should be arranged with friends, relatives or a taxi if you are unable to drive and cannot walk or come by bus.  It is not the surgery's duty to arrange transport.

If you are able to get out to hospital appointments, opticians, dentists, the hairdresser or to visit friends/relatives, then you can and should come to the surgery for an appointment.

Children can invariably be brought to the surgery by an adult.  Unwell children are often best served by attending the practice as they will be seen promptly and in the right environment to make a safe diagnosis. Any child who is so unwell that they cannot be brought to the surgery almost certainly requires a 999 ambulance. Please do not delay your child's care by calling us instead.

Text Reminder Service

We have a texting service which allows you to receive confirmation and reminders about your appointments.

To have this service you will need to register by completing a consent form.

Please remember to update your contact details with us when you change address, telephone numbers and email address.