Primary care access

Primary care access

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30 June 2022

Know your GP surgery

  • Know how we're working

    Primary care has been evolving for several years now to improve the way in which patients access care, to provide you with more choice in accessing your care. Your GP surgery is working in ways which are beneficial for patients, for staff, for you.

    There are many different ways to access your care and many qualified professionals to help you:

    • face-to-face appointments
    • phone consultation – you may receive this, or a video consultation, in the first instance, so that we can assess your needs. Everyone who needs to then be seen in person will be offered a face-to-face appointment
    • video consultation
    • care navigation staff
    • extended workforce
    • the NHS App
    • signposting to other help and support e.g. community pharmacy
  • Know why we ask

    GP reception staff, or ‘care navigators’ are a vital part of the practice and ask questions to direct you to the best professional support. They have been trained to ask you the right questions and are bound by the same confidentiality laws as your GP.

    Your appointment may be triaged by a trained care navigator, meaning we’ll assess the urgency of your healthcare need.

    We can then establish the most suitable appointment type for your care need, as well as which specialist professional within the practice team is best suited to care for you. This may not always be a GP.

    Visit our 'know who can help' page for more information on our extended workforce and the other professionals that you might see within your GP surgery. Sometimes, you might also be signposted for other types of support. Everyone who needs to be seen in person will be offered a face-to face appointment.

    Here is where we will tell you about some of the work being done to help get patients the help they need at the right time by the right people.


  • Know who can help

    Your GP is supported by a qualified team of professionals who will support you with your health and wellbeing needs. This means you may not always see a GP.

    Many GP practices now include a range of professionals who are specialists in their areas and are specifically qualified to treat different health conditions.

    This ensures that you see the right person, at the right time, and can often mean fewer appointments.

    Here are some of the different professionals you might come across at your local practice:

    • Clinical Pharmacists - help patients to understand and get the most of out their medicines. This includes carrying out structured medication reviews for patients with ongoing health problems and improving patient safety. They are also able to help with lifestyle changes to tackle long term conditions, order blood tests where necessary and often advise patients who have just come out of hospital and need help with their new medication
    • Pharmacy Technician - work closely with the Clinical Pharmacists. Pharmacy Technicians support with prescription management. They are trained to help patients with understanding and getting the most from their medication, as well as lifestyle advice.
    • General Practice Nurse - Practice Nurses are an integral role within GP Surgeries and have a wide range of skills. They care and advise patients with long term conditions, such as diabetes and asthma. Practice Nurses are able to request blood tests, conduct breast examinations and cervical screening (smears). Practice Nurses can even advise on contraception. In addition to this, Practice Nurses oversee baby immunisations and will provide families with advice.
    • Healthcare Assistants - work closely with the Practice Nurses and will assist with medical procedures. They are trained to undertake clinical procedures, such as giving flu jabs and taking blood tests. They are also able to carry out patient health checks, which monitor blood pressure, height, weight and give lifestyle advice.
    • Social Prescribers - support patients to improve their health, wellbeing and welfare by connecting them to community services, which might be run by the council or a local charity. They are able to take the time to talk about what matters to patients and support them to find suitable activities or services for practical and emotional support.
    • Care Co-ordinator - with a focus on providing a more joined up and coordinated care journey for patients, Care Co-ordinators act as a single point of contact for patients to navigate the health and care system. As part of their role, Care Co-ordinators answer queries, make and manage appointments and ensure that people have good quality information to help them make choices about their care.
    • First Contact Physiotherapists - have enhanced skills to help patients who have muscle or joint problems. This includes people recovering from serious injuries or illness, and those with new injuries. They can assess and diagnose issues by booking scans and tests. They are trained to give the best expert advice on how best to manage conditions and refer patients onto specialist services if necessary.
    • Mental Health Practitioners - support patients who may be experiencing difficulties with their mental health. They work with patients to make the best possible decision to manage their care and help them access treatment. Mental Health Practitioners are a bridge between primary care and specialist mental health providers, providing care to patients with a range of needs and can then go on to access a range of mental health services.
    • Physician Associates - are medically trained professionals and work alongside the GP. They are qualified to diagnose and treat a wide range of health conditions. They can order tests and interpret the results, perform physical examinations and then make referrals. A Physician Associate is a valuable role and provides patients with the continuity of care they need, especially those with long term conditions.
    • Paramedics - are a new role within the extended workforce in GP surgeries. They are trained to deal with a wide range of illness and injury by running clinics and providing continuity for patients with complex health needs. They will be able to carry out assessments and manage requests for same day urgent appointments and home visits
  • Know your words, know your actions

    The NHS is working hard to give people the care and treatment that they need. We know it is frustrating when people are worried for their health and they want help now.

    However, staff in settings throughout the NHS say they are facing a wave of anger and abuse when they go to work. There is evidence of increased abuse happening in hospitals, clinics, in community settings and in general practice. And it is often the people that patients first come into contact with in primary care settings that bear the brunt of this. This can include foul language, shouting, intimidation and threats. Increasingly it also involves targeting on social media.

    Patients and staff across the NHS are standing together to ask people to be respectful to workers who are doing their best to help all our patients.

    Abuse, bullying and harassment is never justified.

    Care about us, caring for you. Our staff are human too.

    Support your NHS staff and stand with us against abuse.


  • Know your NHS App

    The NHS App is a simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet, at a time convenient to you.

    The App has been developed by the NHS to help people easily access information about their health and care, and to provide more control over how they access NHS services.

    The NHS App enables you to:

    • access your NHS COVID Pass in a secure way
    • check your symptoms using the health A-Z on the NHS website
    • find out what to do when you need help urgently, using NHS 111 online

    You may find additional services available to use, depending on what your GP surgery can offer.

    • book and cancel your appointments
    • order repeat prescriptions to your local pharmacy
    • access your GP medical record
    • speak to your GP surgery through the NHS app messaging service

    You can download and register the NHS App today on the App Store or on Google Play, to help you access your care, anytime, anywhere.

    Find out more about the NHS App.

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