How Practice Assist Increases
GP Practice Capacity

Practice Assist is a revolutionary new project that will increase your practice’s medical capacity while also providing your patients with extended access to UK-registered GPs over the phone. This is not a telephone triage service that just stacks up your work for another day. Practice Assist deals with a patient just as you would in your surgery. Remote GPs have access to full medical notes as a practice GP would, and in the vast majority of instances we close cases effectively and to patients’ satisfaction, with no ongoing work generated for the practice team. Each patient is treated as a unique individual, just as if they were sitting in front of you in your own surgery.

How calls are resolved by Practice Assist

The pie chart shows how calls were resolved by Practice Assist GPs from October to December 2015, taken from one of the practices we are currently working with. As you can see, almost 50 per cent of our closures are resolved by advice or a prescription. Graphs for individual practices vary slightly, depending on the local population.

Emergencies

A very small percentage of patients (approximately one per cent) were referred to hospital (A&E) or urgent care centres (UCC) as their symptoms presented as a medical emergency.

DNAs

Did not answers (DNAs) obviously make up a small percentage of our calls due to the nature of the service, but we have a plan to deal with this. If a patient does not pick up the call, booked at a pre-agreed time, we try them again immediately, as we understand that it is not always possible to get to the phone straight away. If this still fails, we attempt them a third and final time within the hour.

Patient feedback

Patients appreciate the reassurance and continuity of speaking to a GP who has access to their personal case notes. Overall feedback is also very positive, with 82 per cent satisfied with the service they received and 84 per cent felt the GP answered their questions and gave them the advice they needed.

Where would patients have gone if they had not received a Practice Assist phone call?

The following charts illustrate what patients would have done if they had not been offered a Practice Assist appointment. The majority of patients we spoke to told us they would have carried on calling their surgery until they could get an appointment to see a doctor. This equates to frustrated and unhappy patients and a stressed reception team with over-stretched GPs in the consulting rooms.

Month one
  • Called their practice back

    43%
  • Called NHS 111

    2%
  • Visited a walk-in centre

    10%
  • Went to hospital (A&E)

    6%
  • Other

    5%
Month two
  • Called their practice back

    72%
  • Called NHS 111

    1%
  • Visited a walk-in centre

    7%
  • Went to hosptial (A&E)

    10%
  • Other

    7%
Month three
  • Called their practice back

    42%
  • Called NHS 111

    4%
  • Visited a walk-in centre

    15%
  • Went to hospital (A&E)

    4%
  • Other

    13%
Month four
  • Called their practice back

    47%
  • Called NHS 111

    2%
  • Visited a walk-in centre

    20%
  • Went to hospital (A&E)

    3%
  • Other

    8%

It is not only your surgery, colleagues and patients that benefit from this service. Up to ten per cent of those we spoke to said they would have attended their local accident and emergency (A&E) and approximately 16 per cent would have used a local NHS walk-in service if they had not been able to arrange a telephone call back from one of our GPs. This shows just how much strain Practice Assist helps to take off surgeries and other medical services.