A Day in the life: Melissa, Reception Team

Melissa richley


As you’d probably guess, one of my main jobs as part of the Reception Team is to answer the phone when patients call.

Our phone lines open at 8.15am so we’re there primed for the first call, with all of our systems and appointment diaries ready. We need to make sure we know about anything happening that day – changes to normal services, or staff on leave – so we’re always giving you the right information.

First thing is the morning is always the busiest, especially after the weekend, so we always have at least 4 of us ready to take calls. 

We try to answer every call as quickly as possible, but when it’s really busy or there is a time-sensitive task we need to follow up straight after a call, we can’t always get to everyone as quickly as we would like.

Even at ‘quieter’ times in the week, we still get hundreds of calls every day.

We know that our phone system hasn’t always worked as you or we would like, and we’re working on making sure it’s up to scratch. We have valued the feedback from patient’s perspective to help us sort out any issues.

Throughout the day as well as taking calls, we have a lot of associated tasks to complete like updating records, or sending reminders to our Admin and Clinical team.

Ticking off our To Do list with the phone ringing means we get pretty good at multi-tasking!

One thing we’re keen to remind patients of, is that there are ways to avoid having to call and risk the wait (especially on a Monday morning). Lots of our services are available online 24 hours a day including reordering prescriptions, health records and test results.

There’s information about all of these on the website, but we’ll be more than happy to talk you through any of them next time you call.

Patient Referrals

Jenny Crawford

Secretarial Team Lead

Hello, I’m Jenny, the Team Lead for the Secretarial and Admin staff here at JHP. 

I know the last few months have been difficult, and it has not been business as normal for us nor you as patients. 

One particular thing that has been affected has been your referrals to hospital specialists. I’m pleased to say that this is now starting to return to normal, so I wanted to set out how the process works and what to expect if you are waiting to be referred. 

Restarting Routine Referrals

From 1st June most departments in Hospitals in Newcastle and Gateshead have begun accepting referrals again, having been suspended because of Covid-19.  

Our team here at JHP has been working through the patient referrals we have here. If you were previously asked by one of our clinical team to contact us to be referred at a later date, then you can now do so. If the particular department you need is not yet taking referrals, we will add you to a waiting list and send the request for you as soon as its possible. 

To speak to one of the team about a referral, you can call us on 0191 281 4588 – our phone lines are open from 8.15am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. 

First thing in the morning is the busiest time on the phones, especially early in the week, so do keep that in mind when calling.

Changes to the Referral Process

As you’d imagine, with referrals having been paused for a number of months, there is a backlog to be worked through. This inevitably means that things will take longer than normal, but to help deal with that a new system is in place.  

All outstanding referrals will be first triaged by a Consultant, meaning the most urgent cases can be prioritised.

There are then 4 options that will follow, depending on what is decided by the Consultant: 

  • You’ll be invited to a remote or virtual consultation. 
  •  You can arrange a face-to-face consultation. 
  •  A letter will be sent to one of our GPs with advice, guidance and suggested treatment. 
  •  You’ll be referred for diagnostic tests. 

I hope this information is helpful to you if you’re waiting to be referred. I will of course keep you up to date with any further changes.  

Meet the Reception Team


Reception Team Lead


Hi, I’m Katie. I’m the Team Lead for the Reception staff here at JHP. 

We’re the first people you speak to when you call or when you visit the practice.

There are 12 of us in total in the team across the two sites. We’re a mix of full time and part time, along with some Medical students who help us out when required.

Our number one priority as a team is to understand your needs and either help you or direct your query to the best person to help.

We deal with a range of things like booking appointments, reordering prescriptions, passing on messages between clinicians and patients, updating your details or getting you registered as a new patient. 

Nobody wants a long wait to be seen, and we’ll always try to get you to the best person as quickly as possible.

This might not always be a Doctor – one of the Nurse Practitioner team could be available much sooner, and equally able to give you a diagnosis or a prescription. Part of our team’s training is to know who best to direct patients to – that’s why sometimes we’ll ask you about your issue.

Just like with our Doctors and Nurses, anything you say to us is private and confidential and is only ever used to benefit your care. 

Being the Team Lead means that among other things I regularly meet with Vicky, the Practice Manager, the Partners (Dr Davies, Dr Nicholson and Dr Smith) and the other Team Leads – Jenny, Sue and Jane. 

We make sure we all know about changes in anyone’s work, share solutions to problems that have come up, and generally make sure we’re all able to keep ourselves and our teams up to date.

Your views as patients are important to us, and we’d encourage everyone to give us feedback. It helps us tackle issues that pop up and change the way we do things for the better. And it’s always nice to hear when we’ve done a good job!

The last few months have obviously been a bit challenging, and we’ve had to make some changes and be flexible – just like the rest of the practice, the NHS and all of you at home!

If you’ve been to the practice recently, you’ll know we’ve been very careful to use our sites differently and put measures in place to reduce the risk of infection both for all our patients and for us as staff. 

We’ve had some kind messages of support from patients and help with things like PPE and we really appreciate how much everyone in the community has pulled together.

We look forward to seeing you all soon.

How to get tested for Coronavirus

If you develop coronavirus symptoms – fever, new continuous cough or changed sense of smell or taste – you can order a test through the NHS.

You should also self-isolate for 7 days straight away. Anyone you live with should also stay at home for 14 days.

The sooner you are tested, the sooner you will know if you and your household need to continue to self-isolate.

Ordering a test:

Testing can be done through kits in post, at mobile and drive-through facilities, or in hospitals and care homes for staff and patients there.

Click here to request a test.

If you’re an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms, you should apply for a test here.

Getting your results

You’ll normally hear back within 48 hours – although it can take longer. If your result is negative and your symptoms have gone, you no longer need to self-isolate.

A positive result means you have had coronavirus and should continue to self-isolate along with your household. Test and Trace service will ask about other people you’ve been in close contact with. You can read how that process works here.

How are we doing?

Last month, 83% of patients replied to our Friends and Family survey saying they were ‘Likely’ or ‘Extremely likely’ to recommend us.

Here’s some of the feedback we received:

I felt that my concerns about coming into the surgery during the covid pandemic were sensitivity managed by the GP. Thank you for your understanding.

Very impressed with the service. Very quick and efficent. Has put my mind at ease. Thank you.

Lovely welcome under stressful circumstances. Receptionist welcoming and chatty. Nurse today was fantastic, and very friendly. Overall, excellent experience as someone on immunosuppressants I’m quite nervous about attending the doctors at the moment so it was a lovely and calm atmosphere and experience.

Patient feedback is really important to us, and helps us understand how patients view our services.

If we have your mobile number, you’ll receive a text after your appointment asking for your feedback, or you can click here.

What is NHS Test and Trace?

Test and Trace is a new system designed to help control the ‘reproduction’ rate of coronavirus. This is the ‘R’ rate you may have heard about. The ‘R’ number means how many other people someone with coronavirus will likely pass the illness onto.

How it helps:

Once someone has tested positive for coronavirus, they should self-isolate along with their family.

Anyone outside of their household they have spent time with may have been exposed to the illness. By establishing who they are, they too can be asked to self-isolate and reduce the risk of infection being passed on further.

It’s essentially a targeted form of lockdown – based on symptoms, positive tests and potential exposure to the illness. In turn, it’s hoped that this will mean restrictions can begin to be lifted for everyone else.

How it works:

If you have symptoms:

  1. Self-isolate with your household and order a test via the NHS website or call 119.
  2. The Test and Trace service will contact you with your result by text, email or phone call. If the test is negative, you no longer need to self-isolate.
  3. If positive, you’ll be asked to supply details of people you’ve been around and places you’ve been to recently. You’ll either be asked to do this via a secure website, or you’ll be called.

If you’ve been in close contact with some who has tested positive:

  1. The Test and Trace service will contact you and explain you may have been exposed to the illness.
  2. You should self-isolate for 14 days from your first contact with the person who tested positive, even if you don’t have symptoms.
  3. If you do develop symptoms, request a test via the NHS website or call 119.
  4. If you test negative, you must complete your 14 day self-isolation. This is because the illness may not have been detectable when you were tested.
  5. If you test positive, you’ll be asked to list the people you’ve been around and places you’ve visited. Those people will then in turn be contacted.

How to know if a call, text or email is genuine:

  • Calls from genuine contact tracers will show as from 0300 013 500
  • Text messages will be sent by ‘NHS’.
  • You’ll be asked to sign into this website: https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk. You should not be asked to access any website that’s not run either part of NHS.uk or a gov.uk site.
  • You will NEVER be asked to call a premium number beginning 07 or 09.
  • NO financial details or payments are involved in this process and no genuine contact tracer will ask for them.
  • You will NOT be asked for details of your social media accounts.
  • You will NOT be asked for passwords or PINs over the phone, or asked to set them up.
  • NO software needs to be installed on your device, nor should you be asked to hand over control of your device to anyone.