NHS 24 Patient Call-Back Service – Your Questions Answered

From late November the Riverside Practice will work in partnership with NHS 24 as part of a project to safely manage same-day appointment requests.  This means that when you  call the Practice your call may be passed to NHS 24. The team in the practice will decide this under clear guidance from the GPs. If that happens, you will receive a call from one of NHS 24’s healthcare team who will ask you some questions and then provide you with the most appropriate care option.

This new project aims to provide additional appointments with GPs and other healthcare staff .

We’ve set out some questions and answers below that we hope will provide some useful information to help you understand what’s happening and why.

Why is the Practice doing this?

The Riverside Practice, in consultation with East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership, is exploring options that could support patient access to the most appropriate method of care at the time they need it. This is part of an ongoing programme of work by Scottish Government to deliver the right care at the right time for all patients in Scotland.

In addition, the trial is partly in response to changes within the Practice, combined with the nationwide issue of GP shortages.

One of the options we have decided to trial involves working in partnership with NHS 24 who will assist us in the triage of same-day appointment requests. NHS 24 are experts in telephone assessment and linking  people to health and care information and advice. They take 1.5 million calls a year and last year had 4.5 million visits to their NHS Inform health information website. The aim of this is to create additional appointment availability for patients to spend with a GP or other healthcare professional.

How will it work?

As you may know, the Practice already operates a triage service for patients who call and request a same-day appointment. For a trial period, NHS 24 will work closely with the Practice to manage same-day appointment requests, ensuring the most appropriate method of care is provided.   This will also help ensure our GPs and other healthcare professionals spend more time with patients who have a health issue that only they can help with.

This means that when you place a request for a same-day appointment, you may receive a call-back from NHS 24. NHS 24’s call handling and clinical staff will process patient calls to the same high standards of care and confidentially in line with the 111 service currently provided by NHS 24’s healthcare professionals.

 Does this mean that my personal information will be shared with a third party?

NHS 24 will only have access to information that is appropriate. It is the same level of information NHS 24 healthcare professionals have access to when a patient calls the 111 service.

The Practice, NHS Lothian and NHS 24 work to very high standards of confidentiality and they manage information safely and securely.

What if I don’t want to speak to NHS24?

The Practice is working with NHS 24 to triage requests for same-day appointments to ensure the most appropriate method of care is provided. This will help to ease the pressure on appointments and benefit service provision to all of our patients.

We have already identified groups of patients where it would not be effective for a same-day appointment request to be managed by NHS 24 and these patients will continue to be managed by the Practice team. The initial call handling by our staff will ensure that we correctly identify those calls that NHS24 are best placed to deal with.

We are encouraging our patients to co-operate fully with this new way of working so that everyone will benefit from this new service. Your participation also enables us to evaluate the project, taking your views into account.

How can I be sure that I will continue to receive the same quality of care that I receive from Riverside staff?

The NHS 24 call-back appointment service will be provided by dedicated healthcare teams that work to the same high standards of safety and confidentially as with all of NHS 24’s services.

If I need to make an appointment, would it not be quicker to contact NHS 24 direct?

No. All appointment requests are required to be made to Riverside Medical Practice in the normal way.

Patients should not call NHS 24 directly as they can only process appointment requests sent directly by Riverside Medical Practice.

Is this a permanent change?

The NHS 24 call-back service will be piloted until the end of March 2018.

Like any change, there may be one or two teething problems which is why we’re taking a flexible and responsive approach, adjusting the process if needed.

At the right point, when we have robust and meaningful information, we will assess the benefits of this way of working and decide if we will continue or if revisions are required.

How do I give my views?

Once everyone has had a chance to settle into the new way of working, we will actively be seeking patients’ views.

You may be asked by a member of staff to complete a short questionnaire or to take part in a focus group to share your experience and opinion. Consent to contact you may be taken during your call to NHS 24.

Patient feedback will be shared as part of the evaluation outcome that we will share with patients.

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