General practice services, together with community pharmacies and some other types of care, are part of what the NHS calls primary care services.
Primary care is often the first point of contact in the healthcare system, acting as the ‘front door’ to the NHS.
There are a growing range of care professionals providing general practice services and working from surgeries.
With the Covid-19 pandemic having accelerated change to the way patients access services via their surgery, there are now more, and often quicker, ways to get in touch.
Below are general guidelines for accessing care via your GP practice, however please visit your GP practice website to check how your surgery is operating.
Watch the video to hear from some of the teams in our GP practices in Kent and Medway.
Most GP practices in Kent and Medway have an online assessment service.
This may be provided by e-Consult or Doctorlink and can be accessed through your GP practice website.
You will be asked to fill in an online form with information about your symptoms, conditions or treatment. You can also use it to request help with sick notes or GP letters.
You then submit the online form to your GP practice, where it can be viewed, confidentially, by your GP or another approporiate professional.
The practice reviews the form and decides on the right care for you, whether it’s an email with advice or information, setting up a telephone or video consultation, or a face-to-face appointment with a professional from the practice.
Using this online assessment service can free up phone lines for those who do not have internet access.
Check your practice website to see which service it is using.
The new NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet.
You can use the NHS App to check your symptoms and get instant advice, book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, view your GP medical record and more.
To find out how your GP practice is linked in with the NHS App, visit your GP practice’s website.
If you already use another app to contact your GP practice, you can continue to use it. You can use the NHS App as well.
For more information on the app go to www.nhs.uk/nhsapp
You can get more information about accessing health services online at www.nhs.uk/health-at-home.
Pressure on GP practice phone lines has always been high and has grown yet further during the pandemic due to having to change the way some services were delivered.
Staff understand that holding the line is frustrating for patients and where they have been able to, practices have put in extra phone lines.
If you can use the internet, using the online assessment service or apps found on your GP practice website. They not only give you faster access to the practice but also free up phone lines for those without online access.
Reception staff answering the phones may also need to ask a few more questions than normal, so they can help you receive the right care from the right clinician. Any information given is confidential. Please be respectful to the NHS staff working hard for you.
If you contact your GP practice and need a consultation, this will most likely be via telephone in the first instance.
If you have online access, you may be asked to send photos via email, or offered a video consultation.
If the clinician needs to see you in person, you will be offered a face-to-face appointment.
Following a telephone consultation or triage, you may be offered a face to face appointment if you need one.
Please do not attend if you, or someone you are living with, has coronavirus symptoms but contact your practice to rearrange your appointment.
Please wear a face mask, unless you are medically exempt from doing so.
You practice will tell you prior to your arrival at the practice about the procedure you should follow. Please read and follow the signs that are in place.
Many practices in Kent and Medway have other specialists working in them, from pharamacists and healthcare assistants to paramedics and social prescribers. For more information on these roles and how they can help visit your GP Practice Team.
This enhanced workforce means you may be offered an appointment with a more appropriate specialist, trained to give specific help for your condition.
These new roles do not replace the GP but may mean you are able to be seen more quickly.
You may be offered an appointment with one of these specialists when you contact the surgery.
Most practices are asking patients to request repeat prescriptions online, where it is possible for the patient to do so.
Refer to your GP practice’s website for further information for the process at your practice.
Please do not try to request more than your normal amount of medication.