Online advice service for patients eases pressure on GPs

AN ONLINE service offering people medical advice has saved GPs hundreds of appointments in a week.

Sunday, 2nd April 2017, 6:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:59 pm

All 10 GP practices in Fareham are now involved in the eConsult scheme, which has been rolled out across the county.

An additional 10 Gosport surgeries are involved as well as others in Havant and Waterlooville.

The system offers people 24/7 medical advice via their GP practice’s website, meaning they often receive help or support more quickly than if they wait for an appointment.

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Dr Tom Bertram, a GP in Titchfield and the project’s clinical lead, said: ‘eConsult is speeding up access to health advice for thousands of patients, freeing up time for GPs to see those people who would most benefit from an appointment and helping the NHS become more efficient.

‘It’s good news for patients, good news for the NHS – and a good example of how change can benefit our patients.’

Since launching in July last year, 73 practices have signed up and there were 2,539 visits to the webpages at the beginning of this month.

Nearly 1,000 eConsultation forms were submitted in the same week, which has saved about 598 appointments being booked in.

Since the scheme went live, there have been 665,000 visits to eConsult pages, nearly 243,000 eConsult forms submitted and an estimated 10,600 GP appointments saved.

The online service helps patients decide if they need to see a GP or find out what other options are available to them.

It offers self-help information, signposting to services, a symptom checker and an online service to get GP advice for non-urgent health conditions. 

Patients who submit a request for GP advice will receive a response by the end of the next working day. This could still involve them being offered an appointment.

Norma Christison, business change manager for south east Hampshire Better Local Care, said: ‘The figures reflect a general build-up of activity as more practices have gone live.

‘But we don’t have full data in from all the practices, so these figures will be an under-estimate of the level of activity and the huge benefits that eConsult has given to the local health economy.’