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Campaign launched to help practices explain GP access routes to patients

by Beth Gault
3 May 2023

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All GP surgeries in England are to receive a toolkit and materials to help them better explain access routes to general practice to patients as part of a new campaign.

From this week, practices can access a range of resources to help them communicate the different ways that patients can request care, according to a Primary Care bulletin from NHS England on 27 April.

The rollout of the campaign follows a pilot scheme that found that well-targeted and consistent communication by practices could reduce patients’ reluctance to request care using online methods.

The pilot, which ran from November 2021 to April 2022, tested various materials to help practice staff explain the multiple (and changing) ways in which patients can contact the surgery to access care – and encourage them to move away from the habit of calling in by phone.

Practices participating in the pilot received a toolkit with different digital and printed resources, to support communication between staff and patients about GP access. 

The study found that after being exposed to the messages about access contained in the toolkit, 22% of patients thought the materials had given them ‘confidence in trying new ways of contacting their GP practice.’ Meanwhile, 64% said they felt confident their practice would respond in an appropriate way.

Some GP practice staff who took part in the pilot suggested that a national campaign promoting the changes in GP access to the general public would be beneficial.

The bulletin said: ‘Following feedback that patients would benefit from clarity on how to access care, materials have been produced which explain the different access routes.’ 

The materials include posters, leaflets in various languages, digital and social media assets, sample patient letters and scripts for voicemail or text messages.

The toolkit and resources are available on the Department of Health and Social Care’s campaign resource centre.

Practice managers and GPs will be able to hear about reducing inequalities in access to general practice at this year’s Management in Practice event in Birmingham. Register here for free.