Under-pressure GP practices across parts of Hampshire are saving at least 550 GP appointments a week thanks to the online eConsult service.
Eighty GP practices are now live with a scheme which gives adults 24/7 medical advice via their GP practice’s website.
This means that patients often receive help, advice or support more quickly than they would if they had to wait for an appointment which might not be necessary.
The project in Hampshire – first pioneered in the Fareham,Gosport and New Forest areas – is being used by 2,000 patients a week and freeing up precious time for doctors to see the patients who need their help most.
The first four practices, with a combined registered patient population of nearly 42,000 people, went live with eConsult in July 2016. By mid-March, that number had risen to 73 practices, covering 810,434 patients.
More than 885,000 people are registered at the 80 GP practices which have gone live to date – which means a further 75,000 patients can now access eConsult than three months ago.
Portsmouth is not involved with eConsult. Southampton – where the scheme is being managed by the GP Alliance - is working to a different timescale, although it has three of the seven latest practices to have gone live.
A full list of participating practices is at the foot of this news release.
Norma Christison, Business Change Manager for South East Hampshire Better Local Care (BLC), said: “The new online eConsult service has been good for local people and GP practices alike. The number of patients using it, and the number of GP appointments being saved, are set to increase as people find it convenient and start to use it more . So far, the figures are extremely encouraging and this is clearly a very good news story for the NHS.”
Dr Tom Bertram, a Titchfield GP and the project’s clinical lead, said: “At the simple touch of a button or two on their home or other computer, eConsult is greatly speeding up access to health advice for a great many people.
“This is not only freeing up a great many GP appointments which might not have been necessary – but is also has the big added advantage of potentially reducing appointment waiting times for those patients who do need to see a doctor.”
eConsult was launched by BLC in Hampshire. BLC aims to simplify how people access health and social care in their community by removing the red tape and piloting new schemes like this one.
The new online GP service helps patients decide if they really need to see a GP or find out what other options are available to them. eConsult offers self-help information, signposting to services, a symptom checker which can help people decide if they need a GP appointment and an online service to get GP advice for non-urgent health conditions.
Patients click the eConsult option on their GP website. The available options mean many people can resolve their health concerns without visiting the practice.
Patients who submit a request for GP advice will receive a response by the end of the next working day, often much faster. They may still be offered an appointment.
The participating practices from the South Eastern Hampshire are listed below.
- Clanfield Practice
- Grange Surgery, Petersfield
- Liphook & Liss Surgery
- Pinehill Surgery, Whitehill and Bordon
- Swan Surgery, Petersfield
- Bosmere Medical Practice, Havant
- Elms Practice, Hayling Island
- Emsworth Surgery, Emsworth
- Park Lane Medical Centre, Havant
- Staunton Surgery, Havant
- The Homewell Curlew Practice, Havant
- Waterside Medical Practice, Hayling Island
- Queenswood Surgery, Waterlooville
- The Vine Surgery, Waterlooville.