Progress in modern technology and changing lifestyles in the 21st century mean that practices need to keep up with the expectations and demands of patients who use their services. This can be a challenge for all staff, but we hope this edition of inpractice will provide some useful guidance.

Our main feature article deals with practice appointment systems, which have become more and more complex. While there is a need to improve access for patients, this must be balanced against the patients' safety, which of course, is the priority at all times. This article provides some tips for maximising the efficiency and safety of your systems.

The days of paper records and practice message books are long gone. Instead, electronic devices are being used more and more by primary care teams. Nicola Mullineux from Peninsula Business Services highlights the health and safety issues related to use of these devices.

It is an unfortunate reality for any practice that occasionally patients complain about the care provided. The NHS complaints procedure, updated in 2009, may have resulted in some confusion regarding timescales allowed for response. Medico-legal adviser Dr Peter Connell clarifies your obligations when responding to complaints.

Similarly, members of staff may have concerns that they wish to raise about their working environment, sometimes in form of a grievance. The enclosed guidance from Peninsula will be helpful to managers who deal with staff grievances.

I hope you find this issue of inpractice useful. Of course, we welcome any feedback you may have.

Dr Beverley Ward
Medical editor

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This page was correct at publication on . Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.