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NHS England campaign to educate patients about why receptionists ask health questions

by Anna Colivicchi
20 September 2023

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A national NHS campaign will launch this month aimed at increasing patients’ confidence in the triage process and ‘non-GP’ roles used by practices.

NHS England said the campaign would include ‘PR activity to generate content and consumer media coverage to increase patients’ knowledge and confidence in the primary care triage process and the wider multi-disciplinary team of clinicians that are available in general practice’ 

This will include educating patients on why receptionists ask patients questions about their condition when they contact their GP.

Dr Kiren Collison, interim medical director for primary care, told a the webinar for GP practices held earlier this month that the campaign will run from September onwards and that it will ‘raise awareness around the multidisciplinary team within the practice’, including ARRS roles.

It will include a short video of children interviewing different professionals about their jobs in a general practice setting.

Dr Collison said: ‘It’s not about “see your GP”, it’s about: you could be seen by a number of different people, physios, pharmacists, paramedics.

‘The other thing is around triage and the care navigation side of things, so making people aware that if they do contact their practice they will be asked questions about their condition.

‘And that’s not about a receptionist being nosy, this is very much about triaging effectively so that patient can reach the right person or the right service.

‘The campaign is going to be really focusing on all adults but also with a focus on a younger audience and parents of children, and the reason for that is that we know they have quite a high rate of consultations and don’t always know about those access routes.

‘A short film has been filmed recently and it’s of some children interviewing professionals within a practice setting, to show people who these people are and what they do.’

She also pointed out that the video won’t cover all of the additional roles, but the most common ones will be covered, adding: ‘I think it’s really important to get the message out there that not every practice, not every PCN, will have all of these roles.

‘Some will have some, some will have others, so what this is trying to do is raise awareness that if you are booked for an appointment with a social prescriber or a pharmacist then that is to be expected and not to be alarmed.

‘We need to be clear with our public that, although we are raising awareness of these things, from day one it may not all be there and all in place – this is an evolving process where care navigation is starting up and new roles are coming in.’

NHS England also said the campaign will focus on those from Black, Asian and Eastern European backgrounds.

As part of the Delivery Plan for Recovering Access to Primary Care, launched in May, the Government had promised a national campaign to increase public understanding of the changes to primary care, their benefits and what services they are able to access.

Also in May, all GP surgeries in England received a toolkit and materials to help them better explain access routes to general practice to patients.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse