A service which allows NHS111 call handlers to book GP appointments directly into a patient’s surgery on their behalf has won a regional award.
Before the GP direct booking service was available, patients who were advised to see their GP following the NHS111 assessment were expected to make an appointment themselves. As well as the inconvenience and delay to the patient, this carried the risk of a patient not being able to get an appointment and subsequently calling NHS111again or attending an urgent care centre or an A&E department.
NEAS began working with the region’s GPs in April 2016 as part of a pilot funded by the North East Urgent and Emergency Care (NEUEC) Vanguard and supported by North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS).
Together they developed a process of electronic booking of appointments via NHS111 into a patient’s registered GP without the need for any follow up calls, which was rolled out across the whole of the North East region in June 2016 to 331 GP practices.
Having been the first NHS111 provider to successfully implement this process for the whole region, NEAS is now supporting other providers to launch similar services in their areas.
In recognition of this achievement, the Trust won the Primary and Community Care Category at the Bright Ideas in Health Awards. It was also shortlisted in the Improving Care with Technology category at this year’s Health Service Journal Awards.
Gerardine Hope, Operations Centre Service Manager, said: “The team overcame significant obstacles in order for this process to succeed and it’s fantastic to be recognised at both a regional and national level.
“Although we know some NHS111 providers have implemented direct booking on some scale, but we are not aware of another region that is offering direct booking across its whole area and to the same scale.
“We know this service has improved patient experience but it has also improved the efficiency of the NHS111 service by reducing the amount of post call time required to onward refer a patient and it has also contributed to a reduced work load for GP receptionists due to NHS111 being able to fully resolve a call resulting in a primary care disposition.
“As soon as the appointment is made, information is passed over to the patient’s GP in advance of their appointment, meaning the GP has considerably more information prior to an appointment than the traditional route of a patient making the appointment directly.”