Online booking for GP appointments could ease the daily scramble for slots, report says

Online booking for GP appointments could ease the daily scramble for slots, report says

  • Millions phoning surgery and joining queues instead of preferred online booking
  • More than a quarter of GP websites do not allow the booking of a consultation 
  • Seven in ten don’t provide wider advice on accessing other local NHS services

Outdated GP surgery websites are fuelling the 8am scramble for appointments as they still do not offer online booking systems, a damning report reveals.

It means millions of frustrated patients are forced to phone their surgery and join queues when they would prefer to use the internet. Lines are also being clogged up by people requesting sick notes and repeat prescriptions at practices that have failed to embrace technology, according to the research by the Future Health think-tank.

An NHS spokesman said: ‘Seven out of ten patients report an overall good experience.’

The research found more than a quarter of GP websites do not allow patients to book a consultation.

Outdated GP surgery websites are fuelling the 8am scramble for appointments as they still do not offer online booking systems, a damning report reveals. Millions of frustrated patients are forced to phone their surgery and join queues when they would prefer to use the internet

Outdated GP surgery websites are fuelling the 8am scramble for appointments as they still do not offer online booking systems, a damning report reveals. Millions of frustrated patients are forced to phone their surgery and join queues when they would prefer to use the internet 

Seven in ten do not provide comprehensive advice on accessing other local NHS services, such as pharmacies or NHS 111, which could take pressure off of GPs.

And only 28 per cent allow patients to request a sick note, now known as a ‘fit note’.

The findings come ahead of what health leaders expect to be the hardest winter ever for the NHS, thanks to staff shortages, strikes, bed-blocking, Covid and flu.

Research has shown half of patients now want to use online NHS services but 31 per cent of the 120 GP sites reviewed were found to be difficult to use.

Forty per cent failed to include information about vaccines meaning patients may go without jabs.

If the findings were replicated nationally, over 10.5million patients in England would not access a functional GP website.

The research found more than a quarter of GP websites do not allow patients to book a consultation. Seven in ten do not provide comprehensive advice on accessing other local NHS services, such as pharmacies or NHS 111, which could take pressure off of GPs

The research found more than a quarter of GP websites do not allow patients to book a consultation. Seven in ten do not provide comprehensive advice on accessing other local NHS services, such as pharmacies or NHS 111, which could take pressure off of GPs

Richard Sloggett, programme director at Future Health and a former special adviser at the Department of Health and Social Care, said: ‘Primary care is under more and more pressure as we head into winter and we need as many routes open as possible for patients to access the information and care they need.’

The report, named ‘Tackling pressures and improving patient experience: The case for upgrading GP websites’, says the NHS should ‘urgently’ spend up to £10million on websites.

Jacob Lant, head of policy and research at watchdog Healthwatch, said: ‘There is still some way to go before every GP surgery in the country is delivering the full range of online services that patients have come to expect.’

An NHS spokesman said: ‘Seven out of 10 patients [are] reporting an overall good experience.’

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