Healthwatch Solihull investigated 276 people’s experiences of accessing general
practice (GP) services via technology (e.g., by telephone, the GP’s website, apps or
video calls). There are positive aspects to the use of technology for GP access, and
during the COVID-19 pandemic, for patient/staff safety and infection control. However,
we heard that the information and the language regarding accessing GP services via
technology needs to be simpler and clearer for some people. This will help ensure that
services are accessible to all.
Our initial report encouraged general practices to:
•offer clear instructions about how to access and use these services.
•address issues that patients may experience due to having consultation via
telephone/video rather than face-to-face consultation.
•tackle poor access to booking appointments and call-back systems.
•assure people that they can trust that technology-based methods to access GP
services are confidential.
Addressing such issues would be helped by good ‘patient and public involvement’ (PPI)
in the design and development of services. For example:
•asking for feedback on the information provided.
•involving patients in the development of information sources.
•finding out from patients whether they are experiencing barriers and removing these,
when possible. And when not possible, explaining to patients why this is so.
Healthwatch Solihull shared what we heard from patients with all Primary Care Networks
(PCNs) in Solihull (Solihealth). We also shared the draft report with the Birmingham and
Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group. The PCNs acknowledged the need to improve on
the issues we found during our investigation and they committed to improve services