GP Online Consultation - questions and answers
We’ve put these questions and answers together to provide you with the information you need about GP Online Consultation. It is intended to answer any questions you might have about using the service, now available in GP practices across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. If you have a question that isn’t answered here please let us know. You can contact the Digital Programme team on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We updated these questions and answers in July 2021.
1. What is GP Online Consultation?
GP Online Consultation is where you can fill in an online form available on your GP website using your smartphone, computer or tablet. Your GP might use another name such as eConsult, Engage Consult, Patient Triage or Ask My GP. This is because GPs use different providers. You can still use other ways to contact your GP, for example, over the phone. This is just another way to contact your GP practice. Our two-minute animation tells you more about GP Online.
2. What can I use GP Online Consultation for?
You can use the form to tell your doctor about a new problem and describe your symptoms. If you have a physical symptom, for example, a rash on your skin, you can take a photo and attach that to your form too. You can also make an admin request or anything else you need to tell your practice about. Symptom-specific self-help information is also available together with easy access to other local NHS and self-care services.
3. Why should I use it?
You can use the form whenever and wherever you like, in the same way that you might do your online shopping. Certain times of the day can be very busy so using the online form means no more waiting in a telephone queue or clock watching to ring the practice at a specific time. You can be getting on with the rest of your day instead. It’s convenient and easy to use; just follow the instructions on your GP website.
4. When will the practice get back to me?
Your GP practice will aim to respond to you within two working days, although this can sometimes vary.
5. How does my practice use the forms?
The practice sets time aside every day to make sure queries are dealt with by the right person in the team, helping to make sure everyone is served as quickly and in the best way possible. If the GP surgery needs to get in touch they may suggest a phone or video consultation so you don’t have to come into the practice. You and your GP team agree together what the next best step is.
6. What should I not use the form for?
Don’t use the online form in an emergency. You should dial 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke or if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as a serious road traffic accident, a fall from a height or a serious head injury. If you need advice or medical treatment quickly, but it’s not a 999 emergency and you cannot wait for an appointment with your doctor you can ring 111 – the telephone service brought to you by the NHS. You shouldn’t use the online form to ask your doctor a general question that isn’t about you. Use the information available on the NHS website instead.
7. What about people who don’t use digital?
We know that technology is not for us all and that some of us can’t, or prefer not to, use online services. But if you can use the online form, please do so. That’s because it helps frees up busy telephone lines for people who can’t or don’t want to use online facilities.
8. Why isn’t the service always available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
We encourage all GP practices to provide GP Online Consultation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However there may be times when your GP practice has to switch it off outside of practice opening hours, for example when they are very busy and need to put steps in place to deal with increased demand for services to make sure they can continue to meet patient needs. Even when the GP online consultation service is unavailable, patients still have access to self-help advice, NHS 111, and out of hours services.
9. Can I access my GP practice through the new NHS app?
This depends on what system your GP uses for their GP Online Consultation. The majority of practices in West Yorkshire use systems which are available via the NHS App. If your practice is using one of these, you can submit an online consultation via the ‘advice’ tab on the app, and clicking ‘ask your GP for advice’. Where this is not available via the app, you can still submit an online consultation via the practice website.
10. What feedback have you had?
Patients have reported that they find the form quick and easy to use and a lot better than being in a phone queue. If you’d like to share your experience of using GP Online Consultation and how it compares to other more traditional ways, such as over the phone, please send an email to: email@example.com.
11. How many people use GP Online Consultations?
490,627 online consultations took place between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. Of those, over 40,000 of you were able to access self-help information from the service instead of seeing your GP face-to-face. As GP Online Consultation becomes more widely known we expect to see more people using it.
12. Who provides the service?
There are currently seven different GP online consultation products in use across West Yorkshire and Harrogate. These are:
- Engage Consult
The two main products in West Yorkshire are eConsult and Engage Consult which account for over 80% of patients in the region.
13. Who pays for it?
GP Online Consultation is fully funded by NHS England as part of the General Practice Forward View.
14. English isn’t my first language, how do I find out more?
We have produced an animation about GP Online Consultation in:
English including an in-vision signer using British Sign Language (BSL)
15. How can I find out if my surgery does online consultations?
99% of practices in West Yorkshire and Harrogate use GP Online Consultations. Find your GP surgery to get their website details.