GP practices in Portsmouth offer new '˜fast' online response
GP practices in Portsmouth are offering patients a new '˜fast response' online consultation '“ in a bid to improve access to services.
Nine surgeries have introduced eConsult where GPs aim to respond to online enquiries within 48Â hours, often saving patients the need to book routine appointments.
Patients go to their practice's website and visit online services before choosing an option about whether they want help for their condition, admin support or general advice.
The GP will ask questions they would ask in a face-to-face appointment before an assessment is made on how best to help the patient. A decision will be made on whether they can give the patient self-care advice, whether an appointment is required or whether the patient needs a prescription.
The nine GP practices involved are The Derby Road Group Practice (Stamshaw and Copnor), East Shore Partnership (Milton), The Guildhall Walk Healthcare Centre, John Pounds Surgery (Portsea), Kirklands Surgery (Copnor), Lake Road Health Centre (Landport/Buckland) and Sunnyside Medical Centre (Fratton).
The University Surgery and Portsdown Group Practice are also part of the scheme.
It is hoped that the remaining Portsmouth GP practices will go live with eConsult in the months ahead.
The initiative has been running in other parts of south east Hampshire and is helping to ease pressure on GPs by reducing requests for face-to-face appointments.
More than 75 per cent of patients who have used the service in Portsmouth said they are happy with it.
Dr Elizabeth Fellows, a GP at East Shore who chairs NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: '˜Submitting an eConsult allows a GP to plan investigations prior to a face-to-face consultation to shorten the time it takes to sort some problems out.
'˜People often have a simple question that can be answered by email which means they do not have to be available to answer their phone during a working day. There is also the facility to send in photos of rashes or skin lesions which is really useful. '˜We have high hopes that eConsult is one way we can ease pressure on GPs by reducing the number of patients who are asking for appointments, often because they just need reassurance over an issue.
'˜It's a win-win scenario for patients '“ as we promise to respond to their eConsult form by the end of the next working day, although this may be longer if a form is submitted at weekends.
'˜We are finding that eConsult is making a real difference to our workload on Monday mornings when the demand is highest both for our services and for people to get through to us on phone.'