NHS Liverpool CCG has been working with local GP practices to offer electronic consultations to patients in Liverpool.
This new system, known as e-Consult, is a simple and convenient online tool which enables all patients who are registered to the practice to request health advice from their GP electronically, by simply filling out a short online triage form.
It offers all patients a quick and convenient alternative to calling their surgery or having to attend an appointment in person for advice on non-urgent health problems, or to help their GP or practice nurse monitor an ongoing health condition, or discuss any medication changes. It also allows parents and carers to access electronic consultations on behalf of a child or relative too.
The GP e-Consult system has already been successfully trialled at several GP practices in Liverpool over the past year, including: Aintree Park Group Practice, Brownlow Health, Jubilee Medical Centre, and Fulwood Green Medical Practice.
To date, almost 2000 patient consultations have been provided in Liverpool as part of this trial, and there are now plans to make electronic consultations with GPs more widely available to patients across the city.
Aintree Park Group Practice was the first GP practice in Liverpool to begin trialling the new electronic appointments system. Dr Mark Wigglesworth, a GP at Aintree Park Group Practice explains;
“We recognise that having an online appointment with their doctor is not going to be everyone’s preference, but amongst those who have chosen to try e-Consult, there’s been some fantastic feedback so far. Patients tell us that it’s really easy to use, and they like the fact that it offers them greater choice and flexibility over how, where and when they can access GP advice and treatment.”
He adds, “We’re finding that e-Consult is helping people from many different walks of life to communicate with their GP in a new way; whether that’s people living with long-term conditions who are able to manage medications changes from home more easily, or patients who might find it difficult to attend a surgery and talk to a doctor face to face about their health.
“Lots of people have very busy lives, and can struggle to juggle attending appointments with the time pressures of work, family and other commitments. The great thing about online advice is that it can fit around anyone’s schedule – because they can choose to seek advice at a time and place that suits them.”
Dr Ian Pawson, a CCG Governing Body Member and GP at Brownlow Health which has also been trialling the system said;
“One of the main benefits of using e-Consult is that it gives patients another way to contact their practice, and they can do it in their own time, knowing that they will receive a timely response, without having to make a face-to-face or telephone appointment.
“As GPs we feel that e-Consult also has potential to ease some of the pressures on our workload and can help reduce the stress of working through timed appointments or respond to a high volume of telephone calls in a limited time period. It enables us to work in a more flexible way and we’re keen to explore how much more benefit we can get by making the service available more widely.”
To find out more about using e-Consult electronic appointments, please visit your practice website or ask about it at your GP surgery for more information.