The way general practice services are delivered has been changing for many years.
Although the pandemic sped up the adoption of some of these new ways of working, practice teams have been changing since before Covid. They provide appointments over the phone and online alongside face to face appointments.
Watch our video to hear from GP teams in Kent and Medway about how general practice has changed.
We know surgery phone lines are very busy and people are finding it difficult to get through. General practice teams are working very hard to help as many people as possible, and the overall number of appointments across Kent and Medway are now higher than they were before the pandemic.
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General practice teams now include a range of care professionals who you may be offered an appointment with.
The information below explains some of the ways general practice teams are working. Please visit your own practice website to check how your surgery is operating.
Most general practices in Kent and Medway have an online assessment service. If you can use online options please do; this helps reduce the pressure on phone lines for those without internet access.
Online assessment tools will be highlighted on your own practice's 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.
Submitted forms are viewed, confidentially, by your GP or another approporiate professional.
Based on the information you provide the practice will 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.
Find your practice web address on this map.
The NHS app is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet. If you can use it please do; this will help reduce pressure on phone lines for people who cannot use digital options.
You can use the NHS app to:
- check your symptoms and get instant advice
- book and cancel appointments
- order repeat prescriptions
- view your GP medical record
- see you Covid-19 vaccination status
- and more.
Visit your own practice’s website to find out how they are linked in with the NHS app.
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.
If you already use another app to contact your general practice team, you can continue to use it. You can use the NHS app as well.
Pressure on general practice phone lines is very high at the moment. We know it is frustrating, but please treat the practice staff with respect; they are often dealing with hundreds of calls every day.
Staff understand it is frustrating for patients and where they have been able to, practices have put in extra phone lines.
If you can use online assessment services or apps please do. You will find information about these on your practice website. They can be convenient for you and also help to free up phone lines for those without online access.
Reception staff answering the phones do need to ask questions to make sure you can be offered the best type of appointment from the different members of the general practice team. Any information given is confidential.
Please be respectful to the NHS staff working hard for you.
General practice teams are continuing to offer many appointments by phone. For many simple problems this is convenient for patients and efficient for the practice, helping them help more people.
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.
Most practices are asking patients to request repeat prescriptions online, where it is possible for the patient to do so. You can also now order repeat prescriptions using the NHS app.
Refer to your practice’s website for more information for the process at your practice.
If you can use online ordering please do. This will help keep phone lines open for people who cannot use digital options.
Please do not try to request more than your normal amount of medication.
General practice teams across Kent and Medway have other specialist clinicians and therapists working with GPs. These roles might include:
- practice nurses
- nurse practitioners
- clinical pharmacists
- mental health therapists and practitioners
- healthcare assistants
- social prescribing link workers.
These different roles can treat and support people depending on their specific needs. It means you might not always see a GP, but you will be offered appointments with people who are skilled and able to help based on your needs.