PART TIME MEDICAL SECRETARY: 12 hours per week
Over the last 18 months two Health Psychologists, Alyssa Lee and Hannah Dale, have been working as part of the Academy Medical Centre team. Alyssa and Hannah saw or spoke to over 300 patients at the practice. A recent evaluation of the service has found that their work contributed to improving patients’ satisfaction with life and how positive they were about their health.
The main reasons why patients were referred to the Health Psychologists were:
- help with mental health issues such as stress
- help to make changes to their lifestyle, for example drink less alcohol, stop smoking or losing weight
- help them to work on sleeping better at night
- help to manage symptoms of a long-term illness or condition better.
Talking about their experience, one patient said:
"I was able to feel more confident in dealing with my health issues, and feel reassured that I can make contact again if I need too."
When asked to respond to a satisfaction survey 91% of patients said they would recommend the service to other patients in a similar position to them.
On average patients at Academy waited just 7 days to see Alyssa or Hannah and 20% of patients saw or spoke to one of them on the same day as they phoned into the practice. One patient said, "It happened very quickly which was a great help in nipping my problem in the bud rather than going on a long waiting list.”.
And there were other benefits from this service too. Some staff reported feeling more confident that they could better help patients with their lifestyle issues. One clinician said, “I feel better equipped to discuss health behaviour change, more confident and there is somewhere to go/refer for more specialist support.”
The Health Psychology service also appeared to help reduce the number of patient appointments with other members of the team; 68% of patients had fewer appointments with the doctors, nurses and healthcare team in the three months after they had contact with Alyssa or Hannah, compared with the three months before. This is beneficial if patients’ problems aren’t purely resolvable with medical and nursing support. In fact many issues can improve due to psychological input or where patients are helped to make behavioural changes such as finding a better sleep routine, relaxing more or changing how much they exercise and what they eat.
March marked the end of an 18 month pilot project. We are looking for ways to help support the continuation of the project so that more patients can continue to benefit from this sort of support.