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GP receptionists undergo 'care navigation' training to help patients get treatment from the right health professional more quickly

GP surgeries in Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth are launching a new initiative to get patients the right treatment more quickly.

More than 100 practice receptionists across the East and North Hertfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group area have undertaken additional training in ‘care navigation’ so they can direct residents to the health professional who is best placed to help when they ask for an appointment.

Dr Deborah Kearns, from Central Surgery in Sawbridgeworth, said: “When you call your practice to make an appointment, the receptionist may ask you to tell them a bit about why you want to see a doctor. You don’t need to give lots of detail or tell them anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.

“Once they know what you’re calling about, they can see if there are other local health professionals, like a school nurse or the mental health wellbeing team, who might be more suitable. Often these specialists will be able to see you more quickly.

“We all know that GP surgeries are getting busier and our practice reception teams do their very best to find appointments for everyone who wants one. But sometimes, the right person for you to see may not be a GP.

“Telling the receptionist a bit about why you want to see someone will help them direct you to the right care quickly. And if, after hearing about the other services nearby, you still want to see a GP, that’s fine too and the team will try to find you an appointment.”

Care navigation is just one of the ways in which East and North Hertfordshire CCG, which designs and buys health services for 597,000 people, is working to improve access to primary care services.

Patients can now also request GP and nurse appointments in the evenings and at weekends through an ‘extended access’ scheme. GP surgeries are working together in local areas to provide these appointments so they won’t necessarily be held at patients’ usual surgeries.

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