A network of GP practices in the Plymouth area are offering a new fast, free and convenient online ‘mini virtual consultation room’ to their patients.
Beacon Medical Group – run by local GPs – oversees six practices in and around the city and its patients can now contact doctors and other frontline professionals for simple and routine health issues online, where appropriate.
The service may be useful for families and other busy people over Easter who have too much on to come into their practice.
Under the scheme, patients complete an online form about their condition to establish what service is right for their symptoms. The questions are the same as a GP would ask in a face-to-face appointment. The practice will assess to see if they can provide online advice, or whether an appointment or prescription is required, and will usually contact the patient within 24-48 hours.
Patients can also book appointments, order medication, view their medical records and vaccination histories, request test results, receive self-care advice and be signposted to other local health services using the website at: www.beaconmedicalgroup.nhs.uk
Dr Andrew Mercer, a GP Partner at Beacon, said: “We are embracing modern technology and our patients can now liaise with our doctors and other frontline health professionals online for some routine health issues.
“We are continually looking for ways to improve access to our services to meet demand, based on the needs of patients.
“This new service on our website will help some patients to conveniently access help and support to fit in with their everyday lives, potentially saving them time and an unnecessary trip or phone call to their surgery for some health issues, as the information will be online at their fingertips – whether they are at home, work, or on the move.
“The scheme aligns to national NHS thinking that GP practices should offer digital services to patients and helps to free up appointment slots at our practices for more urgent patient issues.
“This service on our website doesn’t replace face to face or telephone contact with our GPs and frontline professionals, but will be more convenient for some patients. However, they can still contact their practice by phone or in person – it’s their choice.”
The six practices under Beacon’s portfolio are Plympton Health Centre, Chaddlewood Surgery, Glenside Medical Centre, Ivybridge Health Centre, Wotter Surgery and Highlands Health Centre, Ivybridge.