GP practices should promote online GP services to university students, according to guidance issued by NHS England.
The document, published this month, outlines how online GP services can support students and what practices can do to advertise that they offer these features.
Digital services can meet students’ expectations to be able to do more online, for example allowing them to check their tests results without having to phone the practice or wait for a call back, order repeat prescriptions 24/7, or avoid the embarrassment of having to talk to a receptionist about private health issues by booking appointments via the practice website.
NHS England said all practice staff should promote online GP services, although the responsibility for advocating them to patients falls to receptionists and practice nurses in particular.
Practices can promote digital services through their website or by contacting their local universities – raising awareness by sharing information about the online services they offer at events such as freshers’ fairs, the guidance suggested.
The University of Sheffield Health Centre, which has offered access to online services for the past 15 years, promotes these services on screens in the practice, via thir website and through their own app.
Patients are also recommended to use online services to book routine appointments.
Practice manager Barbara Graham said this function allows them to book appointments, gain access to immunisations and test results, and request repeat prescriptions at the touch of a button.
She added: ‘We believe this is particularly appealing for our students who expect such technology, and we feel this is why we do so well with online services.’
Practices can also promote the free ‘Student Health App’, which is available in the NHS Apps Library and provides students with information on how to take better care of their health while studying. One LMC that suggested that practices in the local area make use of the app is Wessex LMC.