Receptionists are often the first point of contact for patients, and once they are trained as a ‘care navigator’, they ask a few questions to clarify a patient’s need to help people to get to the best person and place to receive timely care.
A recent study by the NHS Alliance found that across the country, 27% of GP appointments could potentially be seen more quickly by other healthcare professionals, including nurses or pharmacists, or simply didn’t need an appointment. By helping signpost people, care navigators are reducing reliance on GPs and making the most of the resources available in healthcare.
The project is being run by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group as part of its GP Forward View Strategy, which is focused on maintaining sustainable, excellent care for our patients.
So far, 218 care navigators have been trained, with a further 140 by the end of April 2018.
Jade Ketteringham, who is a care navigator at the New Queen Street Surgery in Whittlesey, said: “Appointments don't fill up so quickly each day as only those that need to be seen are booked in. Those patients who don't realise they don't need an appointment to order repeat prescription are educated and have their issue resolved by the receptionist. It has helped use everyone’s time more efficiently. I turn fewer patients away since asking more questions. This pleases patients and gives me better job satisfaction.”
Dr Gary Howsam, CCG Clinical Chair and Chief Clinical Officer, said: “GPs across the region see hundreds of patients each day, and care navigators are helping free up appointments for those who need them, whilst empowering others to manage their own health and wellbeing more effectively. All practice staff take data protection and patient confidentiality very seriously, so whilst you may notice that your local GP receptionist asks you a few more questions, you needn’t worry, they’re just helping get you right care, from the most appropriate member of the General Practice team”