EIGHT practices are working together in a pilot scheme to get patients the right care first time, cut waiting to see GPs and ease the pressure on A&E.
The £256,000 triage scheme, which has been funded by NHS England, means patients can call a health professional and tell them their symptoms over the phone or online.
This rationalises GP resource and means we can spend more time with patients who have long-term conditions and offer longer appointment timesDr Jim Hogan, practice partner at Lake Road Surgery
Based on symptoms, the person will either be given a same-day appointment to one of the eight participating practices in Portsmouth, given advice, or directed to the care they need such as a physiotherapist.
The idea is to ensure patients get the right help first time round, ensure those who need to see a GP can do so quickly, and to avoid people going to A&E unnecessarily.
The six-month scheme involves Crookhorn Surgery, Cosham Park House Surgery, Paulsgrove Surgery, Kingston Crescent Surgery, Somerstown Surgery, Heyward Road Surgery, Lake Road Surgery and the John Pounds Surgery.
Dr Jim Hogan, practice partner for the Lake Road Practice in Landport, said: ‘Not everyone needs a face-to-face consultation with their GP. Some of the conversations can happen over the phone or online, so the patient is seen by the right person the first time round.
‘This rationalises GP resource and means we can spend more time with patients who have long-term conditions and offer longer appointment times.
‘We started this in my practice two weeks ago and we have managed to reduce face-to-face appointments by 50 per cent.
‘We would like to see people use the website more.’
The scheme, which is called the Urgent Care Triage Hub, came about after the practice submitted an application to the Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund, but was not selected. But NHS England, Wessex, was supportive and so has decided to fund a six-month pilot.
If it is successful and is rolled out for longer, the scheme is expected to cost £170,000 a year.
NHS England has not confirmed it would carry on funding it and, if this were the case, then the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group would need to pay for it.
These eight practices cover 60,000 patients. If the scheme is successful it could be rolled out to other surgeries.
It is similar to a same-day GP appointment scheme that is due to start in Gosport this year.