NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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Waiting times reduced thanks to new GP practice system

Waiting times reduced thanks to new GP practice system
15 May 2018

Over half of all GP practices in Sheffield have taken steps to help patients receive the right service first time by introducing a new ‘Care Navigation’ system.

Through the new telephone system, trained receptionists are able to advise whether patients need to see a GP, or can access healthcare directly through other services such as opticians, pharmacies, nurses, family services, or support groups.

As well as patients receiving care from the appropriate person, the Care Navigation system is working to reduce GP waiting times for patients where seeing a GP is the best course of action.

Over the past 12 months, NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has commissioned support and training to help develop Care Navigation in Sheffield. This has included developing receptionists’ knowledge, introducing new IT systems and forming stronger partnerships with other service providers.

Regular Care Navigation events have been hosted by the CCG to help increase the number of practices involved, as well as share knowledge and ensure patients across Sheffield receive consistent advice.

Sothall Medical Centre is one of the many practices that have introduced Care Navigation for 2018. Practice Manager Michael Lyall said: “Care Navigation helps to ensure that patients who need to see a Doctor are more able to – as many of the patients that call us have conditions that could be seen by someone other than their GP, often without having to book an appointment.

“The best thing for them could actually be to have a quick chat with a local pharmacist, or to get in touch with another service that the patient isn’t aware of. For example, if a patient has an eye problem, depending on the issue they could be directed to a local eye-care assessment & referral service. Our receptionists are fully trained to advise on the best option for everyone who calls.

“In the three months that we have been using the Care Navigation system, over 250 patients have been offered more appropriate options than seeing a GP. Those 250 patients have received great care, and more than 250 appointments have been freed up for people who actually do need to see a doctor.”

Chapelgreen Practice was one of the first to pilot the Care Navigation system. GP Dr Caroline Mills said: “We’re seeing a huge impact on the availability of doctor’s appointments. On average, we’ve reduced the waiting times for appointments by 13 days.

“We want to make sure people can access care without having to see a GP if possible – and our patients are always assured that they can come back to us if they need further support.”

In the majority of GP practices, the only change patients will notice is the reception staff asking them for more information as to why they are calling.

Michael Lyall said: ‘Receptionists now ask every patient, ‘can you tell me a little about the problem?’ This helps us to book appointments, or advise on a service that will help you faster.

“No-one at the practice will discuss your answer with anyone else unless they need to seek further medical advice – all of our staff have to adhere to very strict confidentiality rules, so you don’t have to worry.”


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