Dr Mark FunnellA new IT system means local GP practices can now offer online patient consultations with 30 practices across Norfolk and Waveney expressing an interest. Online consultations involve patients contacting their GP surgery securely by using its website, or even an app. Their message is read and passed to the right member of staff to deal with, such as a pharmacist, nurse, therapist or GP. In some cases the patient can be helped or advised by responding securely online - otherwise they might be asked to come in for a face-to-face appointment or to pick up medicines.

One practice already offering online consultations is The Hollies in Downham Market. Patient feedback since the launch shows a satisfaction rate of 93%, with patients agreeing that this new service has improved contact with the practice, and patients are very pleased that a system is in place that suits their needs.

Dr Mark Funnell said; “We used to struggle to offer routine appointments but now provide a same day service for the patient on whatever day is convenient to them whether their problem is urgent or routine. Additionally they have the option of accessing us through a web based solution and can do so overnight for an appointment the next day if they wish.

“Patients without internet access can still call in by telephone. Patients have been amazed at being asked to come in on the same day, and the vast majority are very happy with the change in the service. Follow up continuity has also been improved as patients can contact through this for a review on any day in the agreed week that I am available.

“Nothing is deferred to another day and I go home having dealt with everything and normally earlier than previously. It is to my mind a vast improvement in the service offered to the patient and a modern solution fitting in with the wants and needs of a modern population.”