In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NHS England and NHS Improvement have produced this guide to support all GP practices in England with the rapid implementation of a ‘total triage’ model using telephone and online consultation tools. Total triage means that every patient contacting the practice is first triaged before making an appointment. It is possible to do this entirely by telephone, but this is likely to be less efficient. Total triage is important to reduce avoidable footfall in practices and protect patients and staff from the risks of infection. This information accompanies a walkthrough webinar recording. Key messages
- All practices should move to a total triage model as rapidly as possible to protect patients and staff from avoidable risks of infection.
- Practices should manage patients remotely (online, phone, video) and any prebooked appointments should be converted to remote appointments unless face-to-face contact is clinically necessary.
- Turn off online pre-bookable appointments and, instead, triage all demand.
- Encourage use of other online patient-facing services, e.g. repeat prescription ordering and patient access to medical records.
- Appointments made available to NHS 111 for direct booking should be set up as remote appointments.
- NHS England and NHS Improvement are working with local commissioners on implementation resources and capacity to help practices deliver the changes required for a successful total triage model.
Managing an overwhelming number of calls and providing remote support to community healthcare while trying to keep surgery staff safe could be challenging. The agility of primary care in adopting wholly new ways of working needs to be matched by the speed COVID spread.
In the part-2 of this article, we will discuss the challenges with bringing change, adopting new ways of working(WoW) and implementing total triage system, so stay tuned.
[Source: NHS England]