A POPULAR drop-in service at Kington Medical Practice is due to be stopped and replaced with a triage system.

The change will see patients asked to telephone the surgery instead and describe their symptoms to a receptionist. A member of the clinical assessment team will then ring the patient back before a decision is taken whether a doctors appointment is required. All calls will be triaged and prioritised.

A statement on the Kington Medical Centre website said: "Due to the success of our nurse-practitioner led services at the surgery, we have made the decision to combine our on-the-day services provided by our GPs and advanced nurse practitioner.

"After looking closely at our appointments over the past few months we have realised that a lot of the care that you have had to wait to be seen for could be dealt with much quicker and much more effectively by an appropriate clinician.

"Currently, you can be waiting up to and above two hours to be seen by a nurse-practitioner, only to be told that your problem could have been solved with a simple telephone call.

"With what we envisage to be a bad winter, it doesn’t seem right to ask patients to attend the surgery when their problem can be solved without them leaving the comfort of their own home. Similarly, patients who work have to take a day off work to be seen because they cannot guarantee how long it will take to be seen.

"Our new system will mean that potentially your problem can be dealt with by a short telephone discussion, or, the clinician will arrange for you to come in to the surgery at a time that suits you.

"If your problem can be dealt with over the phone, then the clinician will endeavour to do so, however, if they feel that you need to come into the surgery, they will arrange an appointment that suits both the nature and severity of your problem and your own schedule.

"We will also be using this system for home visits, this way the most appropriate clinician will have a better idea as to why they are visiting and will be able to bring any appropriate equipment or medication for you."

The service will run Monday to Friday from 8am until 6pm, or until the doctor's is full to capacity for that day.

Kington Mayor Martin Fitton added: "The walk-in system was so popular that people who walked in an hour before closing were discouraged from waiting.

"All of these systems have problems but the real problem is that more people need treatment in towns like Kington which has a slightly older population.

"What is clear is that the doctors are trying to find ways of providing better and more effective services.

"There was clearly some concerns when it was discussed at the Kington Town Council meeting last week and there was quite a lot of suggestions that it was not an effective system. If you look at the research that is not the case and it's still being worked on."