Improving patient access to health services

Patients contacting their GP surgery for help and support for a range of minor ailments could access treatment faster thanks to receptionists receiving special training.

People visiting or calling their surgery to request appointments for certain health concerns could now be asked some extra questions by surgery staff.

The responses will enable staff to guide patients to the most appropriate service.

NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and funds the majority of health services for the area’s 225,000 registered patients, has been working with GP surgeries to improve patient access.

Training was provided for staff at GP surgeries so that they are able to ask patients questions on some common ailments, in order to be able to direct them to the right service.

The 10 chosen ailments are:

Head lice Coughs and colds
Conjunctivitis Sprains and strains
Hay fever Bites and stings
Urinary tract infections and cystitis Dental pain
Vomiting and diarrhoea Verrucas and athlete’s foot

Dr Peter Bibawy, acting Clinical Chair of the CCG, said: “When a person is ill or injured, we want them to be able to get the treatment or support they need as soon as possible, to help them recover more quickly and to be able to control their own health and wellbeing.

“People will not always need to see a GP and there will be times when another healthcare professional, for example a pharmacist, is best-placed to help them. In this instance a receptionist will be able to check some details with the patient and direct them to the most appropriate health professional.

“This is about making better use of existing resources to create a more efficient local health system that gives our patients a high-quality service, a great patient experience and positive results.”

Receptionists have been trained to guide patients with regard to the 10 ailments listed, following strict guidance when speaking with their patients. Patients can still request to see a doctor even if directed to a pharmacy.

What is a CCG?

A clinical commissioning group is an NHS organisation set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to organise the delivery of NHS services in England.  It is clinically led by GPs and clinical staff who work with patients and are best placed to make decisions about local healthcare commissioning.   Find out more about the CCG

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