Coverage for eConsult is now nearly city-wide

Nearly 190,000 patients registered with GP practices across Portsmouth now have access to a fast-response online consultation in a bid to improve access to patient services.

Twelve of Portsmouth’s 15 GP practices have introduced eConsult – which involves the GP practice responding to online enquiries, usually within 48 hours, often saving patients the need to book routine appointments.

It is planned that the remaining three practices will have gone live by the end of March 2020.

To access the service, patients simply go on to their GP practice website, visit the online services and choose an option about whether they want help for their condition, administrative help or general advice. This may involve online advice direct from their GP.

The questions are the same ones a GP would ask in a face-to-face appointment.

The practice will assess to see if they can give the patient self-care advice, or whether an appointment is required or the patient needs a prescription which could be sent to direct to the local pharmacist.

Early patient feedback showed that more than three in four of patients who had used eConsult in Portsmouth were very satisfied with the service.

Using eConsult frees up the doctors’ time to see those patients who most need an appointment. People often have simple questions that can be answered by email – giving patients re-assuring and faster advice than waiting for an appointment.

Dr Elizabeth Fellows, a GP at the East Shore Partnership who chairs NHS Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “eConsult is making a big difference to patients – by giving them the chance to have a consultation from the comfort of their home and saving them having to phone or come to the surgery.

“It allows them to get their tests arranged first, then perhaps a routine appointment becoming far more of a one-stop approach, which makes it a much better experience for everyone concerned.

“Patients also get signposted to the most appropriate service for them at the first point of contact – rather than attending an appointment to be told they need to go somewhere else.

“eConsult eases pressure on GPs by reducing the number of patients who are asking for appointments. It is particularly making a real difference to our workload on Monday mornings, when the demand is highest both for our services and for people calling us by phone.”

Two recent feedback comments to the East Shore Partnership about the service were:

–       “I was able to arrange the test I needed without having to waste a GP appointment.  I have a follow up appointment with a doctor in a couple of weeks.”

–       “This is a brilliant, time saving alternative to a face to face appointment. A reassuring service.”