In the NHS we are always looking for ways to improve patient access to our services.
Our GP practice receptionists play a crucial role in helping patients to get to the right support when they are not well, but we are aiming to improve this even further and are currently training staff in County Durham practices to signpost people to the right support for their needs.
When this new system – called Care Navigation – is implemented, patients who contact their surgery will speak to a trained member of staff who can offer them choices regarding which appropriate services they can access.
I know from speaking to patients that when they feel ill and ring a GP practice, they just want to see someone soon so they feel better again.
However, sometimes your GP isn’t the best person to see and staff will offer you choices about who can provide the care you need.
The staff will be knowledgeable and helpful and, where appropriate, may suggest how a practice nurse, pharmacist or other healthcare professional could help.
This system will benefit everyone, as patients will be seen quicker and more appropriately, resulting in more GP time for patients with long-term conditions or complex needs.
The staff you speak to in practices won’t try to diagnose your problem, but patients may need to tell them a little more about why they are calling. This will, of course, be done privately and confidentially.
Patients do not have to accept the advice from the care navigator staff and can still see a GP if they wish. However, I would urge you all to trust the judgement of the staff in your GP practice and I am confident patients will appreciate the role we can all play to make best use of our NHS resources.
I am confident Care Navigation will help professionals work more effectively and allow more patients to be seen in the right place first time.
Ask your GP practice about it today!