eConsult Q & A February 2021

Why has the surgery introduced eConsult?

  • We want to ensure that your query gets to the correct person in a timely fashion
  • Feedback from patient surveys pointed out that there were often long waits on the phone when trying to get through to reception
  • The number of contacts with patients has continued to steadily climb over the years and the previous model of care is stretched to capacity.
  • The world changed in March 2020! We now need to ensure that we are screening all patients to ensure that we are protecting staff and other patients. We will still see patients face to face when clinically appropriate.

What are the advantages of eConsult?

  • Completing an eConsult on line allows you submit your request to the surgery at a time that suits you.
  • The form allows you to put your concerns down in writing and ensure you have been able to raise your concerns in an unhurried way
  • You avoid prolonged delays that can occur on the phone if our reception team are very busy
  • The form takes a few minutes to complete but will save you time in the long run as;
    • You have avoided the phone queue
    • Your doctor will have all the information available in advance of making contact
    • Your query may be easily resolved without needing to come to the surgery
    • Your will usually hear back from the doctor by the end of the next working day to discuss your concern and to arrange appropriate tests/review/referral
  • We are able to distribute workload to the available clinicians available on the same day or next day to help provide continuity with our patients as much as possible and cover for doctors on leave or needing to socially isolate for health reasons
  • Patients have said that if they need to see a doctor, they generally have a shorter wait using eConsult
  • Our reception team can be freed up to focus on their other essential roles such as managing your prescriptions or handling your hospital letters/referrals.
  • Your doctor gets lots of very useful information about your problem (and is able to review your notes) in advance of contacting you. This helps us to make the best use of time and resources and ensure you are getting the most appropriate help as swiftly as possible.

Do I need my NHS number to log in?

You don’t need an NHS login to use eConsult, and can simply choose the “Continue without logging in” option. If you have an NHS login it can speed up this part of the process, and you will be given the option to register for an NHS login once you have submitted your request.

I just want to speak to my doctor, why can’t I just ring up like I used to?

We recognise that for many this is a new way of contacting the surgery and that it may seem easier to just ring for an appointment. However, we are confident that once you try using the eConsult option you will recognise the advantages that it provides (as detailed above). In a recent survey 90% of our patients were happy with the eConsult process.

If you are unable to complete an eConsult on line, then our receptionists can assist you over the phone by asking some pertinent information about your problem to pass on to the doctor.

I just want to make an appointment to see my doctor

We are working hard to ensure that, as far as possible, we are contacting patients back by the end of the next working day. If we both agree that a face to face appointment is needed, then that will be arranged (often on the same day). The information provided in the eConsult allows us to ensure the contact or appointment is with the most appropriate professional in our team. As the primary care team expands, it may well be that the right person to see is a physiotherapist, pharmacist or nurse rather than a doctor, and we can work that out with you.

I can’t complete an eConsult as I don’t have a computer at home

You will still be able to speak to one of our reception team if you are unable to complete an eConsult, if your problem is urgent, or if eConsult advise you to call us rather than continue with your form.

An eConsult can be completed on any device (including smart phone, tablet or computer) and can be completed with you by a family member or on your behalf if you are aged 6 months to 18 years.

The form has so many questions! Why do you need all the information?

  • The more information your doctor has about your problem in advance, the better able we are to help you in a timely, thorough and safe way
  • eConsult has built in safety cut offs. Depending on how you answer the questions, you may be asked to call the surgery instead of continuing with the form in case your symptoms need more urgent assessment.
  • eConsult does not have access to your NHS record so does not know any of your health problems or medication. It is helpful if you can complete the questions about medication etc, but we won’t worry if you have skipped over those questions!

My eConsult was halted and I was told to call the surgery instead

This is to ensure your safety. It is likely that the last question you answered was the one that triggered the request to call the surgery. The safest advice is to do as advised. Unfortunately, we don’t receive any of the information that you have already completed up to that point. If this is a longstanding problem that hasn’t changed at all, and in your mind does not need urgent same day attention, you can go back to the previous question and review your answer. An example of this is pain scores- if you say your pain is 6 out of 10 you will be asked to call the surgery even though this may be unchanged for years.

I can’t find the form that best fits my problem

eConsult are steadily increasing the number of available templates so it is always worth having another look to see if one fits.

If it is an administrative query (blood results, queries about referrals etc) then please use the eConsult administration option on the website.

If you cannot find your health condition then please choose the general advice option.

If you have been asked to complete a review template by one of the team, these can be found in the bottom right hand corner of the available options.

What should I not use eConsult for?

Most problems can be submitted via an eConsult.

However, it is not for use in an emergency. There are built in safety questions to ensure that you cannot proceed if your problem is deemed urgent. In that situation you will be advised to call the surgery instead or possibly 111/999.

Please continue to call reception if you want to book a nurse appointment or blood test or if your problem is urgent for that day.

eConsult has created its own Q&A web page and further patient information which can be accessed here: