NHS England is supporting local NHS GP practices to offer their patients alternative ways to have a consultation with a GP or other practice-based health professional online via the internet, rather than waiting for the next available appointment to attend in person – we are referring to this as ‘online consultations’
Online consultations are a way for patients to contact their GP without having to phone in or go down to the practice. Using a smartphone, tablet, or computer, you can contact your practice about a new problem or an ongoing issue. You can ask questions or tell your GP about your symptoms. The practice will ensure your contact is dealt with by the right person in the team. They will ensure you receive what you need as quickly and appropriately as possible. You can still arrange phone calls with the GP or nurse or an appointment at the practice as usual.
NOTE: Online consultations are an alternative service – it is still possible to do other things on the practice website such as seeing test results and your medical record, ordering a repeat prescription, or booking an appointment.
Places that are using online consultations already have found a number of benefits:
- Patients were able to get a quicker response, rather than waiting for an appointment in person
- It is more convenient as patients do not have to travel to their GP practice.
- Patients will not have to wait for the next available appointment either.
- GPs were able to provide more appointments for patients, offering the same level of consultation, diagnosis and necessary actions (such as referral or a prescription) as patients would get in a face to face appointment;
NECS (North of England Commissioning Support) will look at the insight from this work on behalf of NHS England. This insight will help determine the support and resources needed for both practices and patients to adopt online consultations.
For more information on this engagement work, please contact NECs on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0191 301 1300.