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Riccardo Garavani  | 29th June 2020

“eConsult will lead to better outcomes for patients” | Lyn Wheeler

South View Partnership

South View Partnership has been live with eConsult since 2017, initially as an option for patients to contact their GPs, and had seen a decrease of around 40% in their duty phone list each day. In late 2019 the team at South View moved to a different model of eConsult to triage all patient request the same day they came in. Having moved to this model already, South View Partnership was in a strong position with their processes and patients’ awareness of eConsult when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“Currently, our doors are closed but we remain very much open – signposting all patients to submit an eConsult, for those who may need help, our team submit one on their behalf over the telephone (but this is very few). It has meant our team can all work from one ‘to-do list’ irrelevant of our GP’s working from the practice or remotely, this has also allowed flexibility within our staff planning, should a team member need to isolate.”

Nina Jenkins, Assistant Practice Manager, South View Partnership

The team have now asked for anyone who can, to use eConsult when they have a request for the practice. This means everything comes in the same format and to the same level of detail so the team can safely, accurately and quickly triage each patient to make sure everyone gets the right care.

“Using eConsult in this way we have continued to care for all our patients and ensuring those who still need a face to face appointment are seen at the surgery or still have contact via phone or video consultation.With the addition of eConsult now being linked to the NHS App we are promoting this to our patients as a one stop option for all online services. ”

Nina Jenkins, Assistant Practice Manager, South View Partnership
Patients can now submit eConsults from within the NHS App

There has been a big impact from eConsult for patients and staff at the practice who have been able to better handle patient demand, with the majority of patients now not having to come into the practice.

Lyn Wheeler | eConsult for patients

Lyn Wheeler, the PPG lead for South View Partnership explains how General Practice in the NHS has changed for her. Lyn talks about the benefits that eConsult has brought to her and other patients at South View Partnership, that have been emphasised during the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

“In looking at how things have changed for me with the availability of online consultations or enquiries, I was remembering how it was when I was growing up and the NHS had only just begun. In my experience, there was one doctor per house practice. The surgery opened its door in the morning and we all piled in and sat in the waiting room with a very large table in the middle of it, and a very large ashtray on it!  Everyone sat smoking.  

The doctor smoked too and would have his cat and dog in the consulting room with him. So until your turn, you waited, sometimes ages if there was an emergency. There was little or nothing in the way of reception. The doctor wrote any orders for the clinic or hospital or a prescription which was often a tonic of some sort. 

From this, the system gradually phased out the smoking when research showed more doctors were dying from lung cancer than most.  Appointments were arranged and the practices grew with receptionists and extra staff to deal with more functions at the larger practices. However, the problems still existed for urgent appointments as it was only through a telephone call that the link with the practice could be made, other than going to the surgery and waiting in a queue outside at a very early time. With sick children or a worrying temperature, waiting in a queue wasn’t a good option, but hanging on the phone for half an hour or more could be distressing when after all that there were no appointments available that day.

So the biggest change and advantage for me over this time is the convenience of submitting an eConsult and setting out my reasons why I need to see a doctor or need to request some advice. From the warmth and safety of my house, there is no hanging on the phone or waiting for a callback. For me, there is no disappointment, but confidence instead that I will get a response back within a reasonable time.

It is very pleasing to know that as the digital system is developing and growing, and photographs can be included in some cases, this system will lead to the better outcomes for patients with quicker referrals and tests.”