People in Cornwall can now access GP services anytime, anywhere, thanks to a simple online service that is being tested out in 16 practices across the country.
The online service, called eConsult, allows people to check their symptoms and receive on-the-spot medical advice, whether they are on their way home from the weekly shop, picking up the kids, in the middle of the night or at their desk during the working day.
Residents can use the service to check their health symptoms and find out information and advice about a condition and services that are available locally.
They can also complete an online form to describe their needs and request a response from their practice. This could be a request for an appointment or for an administrative task, a test result or some health advice.
The service is available to use 24 hours a day. The practice will review requests every day they are working and most practices are offering a response by the end of the next working day following submission.
People using the service are already seeing some of the advantages.
Jocelyn Barnard, 69, from Liskeard, wanted to speak to her GP practice, Rosedean House surgery, to check her eligibility for shingles and pneumonia vaccinations.
Mrs Barnard decided to try out using the online consultation form.
She said: “Within 24 hours I received an email with all the information that I needed. I was very satisfied.
“I know how busy the doctors and nurses are and I was really pleased that I was able to get what I needed from the Practice without the GP needing to take time out of their busy schedule to answer a minor, but for me important, query.”
Practices offering the online consultation service are also beginning to see the benefits.
Dr Garman, GP at Helston Medical Centre, said: “We are loving eConsult at our practice. Our consultations are easier and more efficient because the information provided with the request means we are well informed from the start.
“The online services can also help reduce practice workload as some people won’t need a face-to-face appointment to receive the medical help that they need.”
The 16 practices helping to develop and test the new service are:
Bodriggy Health Centre, Hayle
Carn to Coast (Pool, Homecroft, Trevithick)
Falmouth Health Centre
Harris Memorial Surgery, Illogan
Helston Medical Centre
Manor Surgery, Redruth
Newquay Health Centre
Oak Tree Surgery, Liskeard
Pensilva Health Centre
Rosedean Surgery, Liskeard
Saltash Health Centre
St Austell Healthcare
St Mary’s Health Centre, Isles of Scilly
Veor Surgery, Camborne
Wadebridge and Camel Estuary.
NHS Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group will use the feedback it receives about the service to help plan and decide how eConsult may benefit people in the future.