On The Line: Patient Access in UK Primary Care

On The Line: Patient Access in UK Primary Care

Telephone triage is increasingly being used as a means to access healthcare, our survey of 1,195 GPs, nurses and practice managers found. With questions targeted at understanding the attitudes of healthcare providers at the individual level as well as activity at the practice level, this survey provides an insight into the subjective experiences of healthcare providers as well as trends in access across general practice.

Over 56% of practices used some form of telephone triage, and this seemed to be considered a convenient and efficient way of providing healthcare with 95% of respondents rating it as either ‘moderately’ or ‘extremely’ successful. However, the quality of telephone triage provided could be called into question, with close to half of providers (48%) having received no training in telephone triage. Furthermore, 13% of respondents said receptionists without a medical background were involved and that a large handful of that group did so without any training in telephone triage or help from a nurse or doctor.

The report includes a foreword from Dr. James Kingsland, president of the National Association of Primary Care, commentary from practices managers as well members of representative bodies such as the British Medical Association to further shed insight on the statistical findings.

Download the report here:  On The Line: Patient Access in UK Primary Care



Medical records database for patients in England has been halted

Upload of NHS care records suspended

by Jane Hughes
Health correspondent, BBC News

Computer keyboard

Summary Care Records are central to the NHS computer upgrade in England

The development of a medical records database for patients in England has been halted in some areas after doctors criticised the speed of the roll-out.

The British Medical Association warned the computer-based summary care records are being set up at “break-neck speed”, sometimes without patients’ knowledge.

In time, data for 50 million patients will be uploaded to a central system.

The Department of Health said the roll-out would be delayed until there was better awareness of the scheme.

The plans to computerise patients’ records in England have raised concerns about security and patient confidentiality.

Doctors have also been unenthusiastic about the technology.

We will want to work with government in future to ensure that the many concerns of patients and doctors are listened to and addressed
Dr Grant Ingrams, BMA

More than 1.25 million patients’ records have already gone onto the database and in December, ministers announced that the process was being speeded up in some areas.

Patients in those areas have been getting letters about the new database, telling them to inform their GP if they want to opt out.

But the BMA wrote to the government warning that it was happening too fast and calling for a suspension.

They said the rushed implementation meant GPs didn’t have time to help patients make an informed choice about whether to opt out.

Ministers said they were surprised by the criticism when there had previously been complaints that the changes had been happening too slowly.

Click the link to read more about summary care records

Scottish Government launches Patient Portal project to give people access to their records

Patient health records go online

Computer and mouse

The portal will allow patients access to records via the internet

A scheme which gives patients access to their own health records over the internet is being piloted at two GP practices in Ayrshire.

The Patient Portal allows doctors appointments and repeat prescriptions to be booked through a secure website.

It also lets patients access their own test results, and track and monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

If the £175,000 six-month trial is successful, it could be extended across the country.

The Patient Portal is being trialled at Townhead Surgery in Irvine and the Kilwinning Medical Practice.

Click the link to read more about patient records

Doctors outline recommendations for the future of high quality care for patients

Long-term ill need ‘more time with their GP’

A woman in consultation with her GP

The ageing population means people have more complex health needs

GPs want longer appointments to treat patients with long-term, complex conditions, says the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Doctors would like the average consultation time between a patient and GP to be increased from 10 to 15 minutes.

People with minor ailments should be offered help via telephone or internet surgeries.

The Department of Health says GPs decide locally on consultation times.

The Royal College of General Practitioners represents over 38,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients.

We have telephone surgeries running every morning in my practice. Patients like them
Steve Field, chairman, Royal College of GPs

Their manifesto outlines some recommendations for the future of high quality care for patients, for whichever party is elected following this year’s general election.

Reduced funding

The GPs’ manifesto says: “The ageing population means that more patients will have long-term and increasingly complex conditions. They will need more time with their GP to discuss their care and treatment options.”

Read more about GP’s manifesto

BCS Health Scotland Conference 2010

health scotland logo

22nd and 23rd September 2010

Glasgow Science Centre www.glasgowsciencecentre.org

Giving you advance notice that our conference this year will be the biggest and brightest yet! We are staging this event at the prestigious Glasgow Science Centre where you not only have great views over the Clyde and City but complementary entrance to the fun science exhibits. The futuristic building mirrors BCS Health Scotland’s innovative and forward looking approach..

We have three themes this year which are quality, innovation, and efficiency.

Keynote speakers include:

Matthew Swindells, former CIO Connecting for Health, and chair BCS Health

Rikard Lovstrom from Sweden to talk about their National Patient Overview project and eHealth strategy

Dorothy Whittick from Canada talking about the Canadian Health Infoway national developments and a Wellness project in Alberta

Brian Robson from Scotland on the Quality theme and his experiences from the USA.

PRESENTATIONS INVITED – Do you have something interesting to present in one of our themes ?

To get in touch please use the contact form

Exhibitions confirmed include:

AtosOrigin Alliance Emis
INPS Intersystems
Microtech Support Orion Health
Voice Technologies and many more in the pipeline

Exhibitors are staging a social networking evening after the first day events so look out for a fun time as well as stimulating and thought provoking discussions.

If you would like to Exhibit please contact Neil Campbell using the contact form

NHS Scotland eHealth Awards!

An exciting new departure will be the ‘NHS Scotland eHealth Awards!’.  These awards are given to winning NHS teams for three categories sponsored by BCS and Scottish Government, look out for an announcement in the next few weeks.

GPs raise concerns over access to medical records across the NHS in Scotland

GPs under pressure to share the health files of patients

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    GPs say there is pressure to share fuller patient records with hospital colleagues
EXCLUSIVE: Helen Puttick, Health Correspondent

Published on 27 Feb 2010

Doctors fear confidential medical records belonging to millions of Scots could be accessed at thousands of computer terminals across the ­Scottish NHS.

GPs say they are coming under increasing pressure to release files containing patients’ medical histories to the wider health service and are so concerned they are to hold a special debate on the issue next month.

Patients’ representatives have also raised concerns and the Information Commissioner’s Office says there must be adequate safeguards to keep information secure.

The issue is being raised just weeks after it emerged a doctor accused of looking up confidential health information on the Prime Minister, the First Minister, and a series of other high-profile Scots will not be prosecuted.

In Scotland, a patient’s full medical record can currently be accessed only via computers at the GP practice where they are registered.

A few details, however, known as the emergency care summary, are available to authorised staff across NHS Scotland, including NHS 24 nurses and A&E departments. This covers any prescriptions the patient is taking and any allergic reactions to drugs.

Click the link to find out more about Doctors fear over confidential medical records

GPs' reactions to "internet-informed" patients

Don’t dismiss ‘cyberchondriacs’

Dr Anthea Martin
Dr Anthea Martin
Senior Medical Adviser with Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland

Searching the web

Many people now search the web for health information

As the internet becomes more and more easily accessible it is perhaps inevitable that patients should try to self-diagnose.

In this week’s health opinion column Scrubbing Up, medical law expert Dr Anthea Martin warns doctors against dismissing all web-wise patients as ‘cyberchondriacs’.

Picture the scene. A man walks into a GP’s consultation room and the doctor’s eye is immediately drawn to a 10-page print-out in his hand.

The GP suspects the patient has spent hours researching all of his symptoms on the internet before arriving at the appointment, armed with his dossier of medical information.

Some GPs said they were frightened of losing control of the consultation and of the prospect of having to admit to their patient that they have read something they don’t understand

It’s possible he has diagnosed himself with anything ranging from a simple cold or flu to some exotic disease such as dengue fever.

So, what would be the GP’s initial reaction? Does she welcome the chance to discuss her patient’s health, or does a look of panic cross her face while she gazes anxiously at the clock wondering how long the consultation will take?

click the link to read more about GPs’ reactions to “internet-informed” patients

GP appointment system in Scotland frustrating

Generic GP writing prescription

The report found frustration with the appointment system

The current GP appointment system is a “frustration” for doctors and patients, a report for the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland has said.

Doctors, charities and the public said a more flexible approach to appointments should be a top priority for the service in future.

Patients have also called for better access to GPs via e-mail and telephone.

The BMA said research was needed to understand why demand for frontline health services was rising.

The report said: “Demand across all services, NHS 24, A&E and Scottish Ambulance Service is increasing. This continued rise in demand must be addressed.

Going back to old styles of working with GPs controlling other members of the healthcare team is not an option
Theresa Fyffe
Royal College of Nursing in Scotland

“In order to do so, it is important to understand why patients are seeking more support out-of-hours and the decision-making process they undertake when contacting an out-of-hours service.”

The report points to 1.55 million A&E visits in 2006/07, up 50,000 on the previous year.

Holyrood’s health and sport committee is investigating the availability of out-of-hours care in rural areas.

The report also said there was a “lack of awareness” that telephone helpline service NHS 24 is the “first point of contact” for non-urgent out-of-hours care.

“The Scottish government should commission research on the beliefs that underpin decisions to contact out-of-hours services and why demand is rising,” it said.

Follow this link to read more about the frustrating GP appointment system

Download the New BMA Policy document General Practice in Scotland: The Way Ahead