Now more than ever we are using technology to manage our lives. From banking and shopping, to ordering prescriptions or learning a language.
And now it seems most people are keen to get medical advice this way too.
Hundreds of people in north east London say they would be happy to see their GP using a digital appointment, such as a video call or through instant messaging, if it means they can be seen more quickly than waiting for a face-to-face appointment.
These innovative services are already being put into place in north east London and are just one way in which the East London Health and Care Partnership (ELHCP) is making it quicker and easier for people to get medical advice when they need it.
The findings come from a recent survey run by ELHCP, which asked hundreds of members of its citizens’ panel about the pressures the NHS is under this winter, and where they go to get urgent healthcare.
As more than one-in-five people think the NHS struggles to cope during winter because of people using the wrong services, local GPs are keen to ensure patients know the right service to use when they need urgent care.
Dr Sam Everington, clinical chair of North East London Clinical Senate, said: “Using the wrong NHS service often means people end up in A&E when they don’t have a life threatening illness or injury. Nearly one-in-five people admit going to A&E knowing their health problem isn’t a real emergency, often because they can’t get a GP appointment quick enough or don’t know where else to go.
“We’ve got a great range of service to help you get the right care, at the right time, first time this winter, so you don’t need to go to A&E. This includes evening and weekend same day GP appointments, walk-in services with their own x-ray facilities, and over the phone advice from GPs and nurses.
“We know this choice can be confusing, and you may not know about all the services in your area, so the first port of call if your GP practice is closed and you need urgent advice or treatment, call NHS 111.”
Since August, people in north east London have had access to free clinical support and assessment at any time of day or night through the new NHS 111 Clinical Assessment Service which has GPs, nurses, paramedics, and pharmacists giving urgent advice over the phone.
Nearly half the people who have used this new service spoke to a GP, nurse mental health professional or other clinician or– showing just how easy it is to get the advice you need without having to wait for hours in A&E.
Using these new and improved services can help relieve pressure on GP and emergency care services this winter, so those who genuinely need it can receive treatment as quickly as possible.
To become a member of the ELHCP citizens’ panel and give your feedback on local health and social care services, simply complete the online sign-up form.
Your views and opinions matter, and will help ELHCP make decisions that work for local people. Being part of the panel is very easy and can be done online from your sofa, or on your daily commute. It is likely that you will only need to give up about 20 minutes of your time every four to six weeks. ELHCP will also always let you know the results of your involvement and how your feedback will be used.