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04/01/22 - Due to staff illness we will be operating on reduced capacity today.


Patient information

Dear all patients

With the ongoing Covid pandemic and the negative press coverage regarding GP surgeries, the practice has felt it appropriate to provide an insight into the daily working of our GP practice.

The practice wishes to reassure patients that we have always been open throughout the pandemic, are still open and will remain open. The way the practice operates is different to how things were before and we understand from a patient point of view that this might be frustrating. The practice has had to develop new ways of dealing with an increased workload during the pandemic, including a Covid vaccination programme and a flu vaccination programme which included more patients than ever before. These programmes were delivered in the safest way possible to our most vulnerable patients and delivered whilst still continuing to provide GP medical services to our patients. The practice has embraced new technology and have offered video consultation and texting service during consultations where deemed appropriate. Reception staff have had to adapt to the new changes which have been made to ensure they are safe and the practice can continue to run a service for our patients.

Below details the daily tasks involved within the practice with daily totals for each task included

Our telephone lines handle on average 520 telephone calls per day

On an average week the practice deals with an average of 111 telephone triage calls for the GPs per day. Reception staff ask for an indication of your problem, this is not to be intrusive or ‘nosy’, but to allow them to direct your call to the most appropriate person i.e. GP, nurse, practice pharmacist. Reception staff are bound by confidentiality as all staff within the health centre are. The reason for this enquiry is that not all calls need dealt with by a GP for example a medication query would be better dealt with by the practice pharmacists working within the practice.

The practice on average provides 80 face to face appointments daily this includes GPs, practice nurse and treatment room appointments. The face to face appointments are delivered in a safe way to reduce the risk of Covid transmission. Patients are asked to wear a mask when attending for their appointments. The appointments are longer than before due to the cleaning required between patients. GPs will only bring a patient in for a face to face appointment if it is deemed clinically appropriate. PPE will be worn by all staff when dealing with the patient face to face. We need to reduce the number of patients in a waiting area where our most vulnerable patients are waiting to be seen. This is to protect them from the spread of the virus as they will be at a higher risk of catching the virus.

On top of this there are an average of 203 daily requests from patients for prescriptions, this is not the total items requested but the number of patient requests. Each repeat prescription item issued must be checked that it’s due, the correct item is issued that bloods or follow-up action isn’t needed all before the prescriptions are printed, signed and left for collection by your designated chemist. In total the practice deals with an average of 719 prescription item requests per day.

Admin Tasks

The GPs deal with an average of 169 blood test results per day. These blood tests need checked by a GP, filed into the patient’s records, any actions noted for example follow-up bloods, follow-up appointment or onward referral if needed to another speciality for example hospital.

The practice receives an average of 5 requests daily for medical certificates (sick notes). These are checked that they are due, recorded in the patients notes, signed by a GP and either posted or emailed to the patient as requested.

We receive an average of 6 requests daily for medical reports to be completed or copies of patient’s notes. The medical reports must be completed by a GP, printed, signed and posted to the relevant insurance company. Requests for copies of medical notes are checked for patient consent, printed for the relevant timeframe requested in the patient consent, checked by a GP and admin staff and left for collection by the patient or posted to the relevant solicitors as requested.

Therefore, in total the admin tasks as detailed above (on their own) total on average 383 daily.

On top of this, the GPs deal with home visit requests and out-of-hours notification from the previous night.

This is only a small reflection of the daily tasks but these are the most relatable to patients.

The GPs hope that this insight might help patients understand the working of a GP surgery. The telephone lines are busy and will remain busy. The telephone system has been upgraded during the pandemic to improve the quality of lines within the practice.

With this increased workload we still have to work with the same number of GPs and practice staff prior to the pandemic. We continue to give time to training GPs, medical and nursing students. Despite advertising nationally for more clinical staff, the regional shortage of GPs and nurses has made it difficult to recruit to our rural area.

As we move into a period of uncertain winter pressures and prepare for massive flu and Covid booster vaccination clinics we would appreciate patience from our patients.

We wish to assure you that we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. If you ring the health centre and get a dialling tone please hold on as this means you are in the queue. If you get an engaged tone the lines are busy and all staff are dealing with queries on these telephone lines. We have a zero tolerance policy against abuse and ask that you treat our staff with courtesy and respect. We have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and our staff are not immune from feeling hurt and upset when they receive verbal abuse for doing their job.

We always aim to provide a high standard of care to our patients and with your support and understanding we will continue to do so.

Thank you for taking the time to read,

GPs and staff of Irvinestown Health Centre

 If you have a discharge letter during the COVID-19 Pandemic please either post into the Health Centre or drop the letter into the prescription box in the front foyer of the Health Centre.

The Doctors and staff at Irvinestown Health Centre in Irvinestown are proud to offer the highest standard of patient-centred healthcare.  We run many clinics for the management of chronic diseases such as asthma and diabetes and offer a wide variety of other medical services including antenatal and postnatal care, minor surgery, childhood vaccinations and well-person check-ups.

In addition to everything you need to know about the practice you will also find a wealth of health-related information in the menu on the right hand side. Please have a look around and do send us some feedback if you like.


We have recently set up a Facebook page which can be accessed by seaching for 'Irvinestown Healthcentre'

Thank you to all the patient who have completed our 'Patient Satisfaction Survey'

We have been informed that callers, claiming to be linked to the patient's GP Practice, are seemingly using private patient details and are using this information trying to either sell products to the patient, or to extract financial information, including bank details.

Please be assured that under no circumstances are these people contacting you on behalf of your GP Practice. Therefore, do not disclose any information to them. Please contact our GP Practice, or the PSNI, if you are aware of any of these incidents, so we can assist you from becoming victims of these callers. Thank You.


A new video that shows women what to expect when they attend for breast screening has been produced by the Public Health Agency. It covers the whole process of screening - from receiving the invitation letter to getting the results. The video is aimed at women who have never attended for breast screening or who have been invited for the first time.  To view please follow the link below.



A new video that shows women what to expect when they attend for cervical screening has been produced by the Public Health Agency. It covers the complete screening journey including the invitation, the smear test, laboratory processing, results and attendance for colposcopy. the video is primarily aimed at women attending screening for the first time.  To view please follow the link below.


If you discover that you are pregnant, you can self refer using the link below.  You do not need to contact your GP.






(Site updated 04/01/2022)
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