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Online GP services offer convenience for Surrey residents this Christmas period

People who use GP online services have told local watchdog Healthwatch Surrey that having online access saves time and helps them easily manage their medication and appointments.

Nearly 300 people gave their views and experiences of using online GP services during ‘Get Online Week’, a national campaign to help more people make the most of the internet.

In a new report, users of GP online services suggested some key areas that could be improved including:

  • Awareness and information: Many people were unaware of the services their GP surgery offered online.
  • Sign up process: A number of people who had used GP online services said that signing up was delayed by difficulties with usernames and passwords.
  • Appointment availability: People commented that the appointments available were often too far in advance. Some practices release appointments early in the morning leaving people feeling rushed to login and book at that time.
  • Type of services: People told us that it would be helpful to have additional services available to book online, including appointments to see a nurse or to have a flu jab.

Kate Scribbins, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Surrey said:

“With the cold weather and Christmas just around the corner, now is an ideal time to get online. People have told us that GP online services save time and help them feel more in control of their health, particularly for those with long term conditions.

“There are improvements that can be made to make the system work better for those who want to use online services, and this may free up time for those who can’t. If GP practices and commissioners can do more to promote GP online and help make these services accessible and useful, everyone will be benefit.”

Woking resident Helen Trotter explained how online GP services have helped her manage her overall health: “As a type 2 diabetic, I have regular blood tests, so being able to look at my results online helps monitor my sugar levels and spot any problems early…I would encourage everyone to use it!”

Healthwatch Surrey has made suggestions to all GP practices in Surrey about how practices can increase the number of people benefitting from online services. The findings have also been shared with Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England. Copies of a summary report will be available in GP surgeries from next week.

The work followed a recent Healthwatch Surrey report documenting the views and experiences of 120 individuals from seldom heard and vulnerable communities which highlighted a lack of suitable and timely support for people with communication needs and found low awareness of GP online services.

The summary and the full report: ‘GP Online: Even Better if…’ can be accessed via the Healthwatch Surrey website: www.healthwatchsurrey.co.uk

Anyone who has a comment or experience about GP practices, social care or other NHS service can contact Healthwatch Surrey on 0303 303 0023 or email enquiries@healthwatchsurrey.co.uk