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’
(NOTE: This consultation is being led by NHS England, not the NHS Leeds CCG)
Online consultations are a way for patients to contact their GP practice without having to wait on the phone or take time out to come into 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, helping ensure you are served as quickly and appropriately as possible. Sometimes this will mean you will need a phone call with the GP or nurse, or an appointment at the practice, and this will be arranged 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 they do not have to travel to their GP practice or wait for the next available appointment.
- 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;
Insight collected from this survey, along with other forms of engagement, will be analysed by NECS (North of England Commissioning Support) on behalf of NHS England. This insight will help determine the most appropriate support and resources needed for both practices and patients to adopt online consultations as an enhancement to currently available online services.
You can find out much more about the programme on the NHS England website.