Why do we need care navigators?
A 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.
How does this benefit patients?
With care navigators, patients are more likely to see the right person, first time, and may be seen sooner than they would if they see a GP. The patient can better understand their options and have more choice, and may avoid travelling to the surgery unnecessarily.
What sort of questions might I be asked?
The questions that you are asked help the care navigator to ensure patients are seeing the most appropriate healthcare professional for their problem as a doctor is not always suitable. Some examples of questions you could be asked include:
- Could you give me some idea of the problem so I know who best to book you in with?
- Can you tell me a brief idea of what it is regarding please?
- To ensure you are booked in appropriately, would you mind saying what the appointment is for?
What if I don’t want to tell them anything?
All staff are trained and uphold the same principles of confidentiality, but if you’d rather not give any information to the care navigator, that’s fine. Just tell them that you would rather not talk about it and they can book you the most appropriate appointment based on the information they have. You will not be pressured into giving any information you aren’t comfortable giving.
Are you trying to stop people from seeing GPs?
This isn’t about stopping people from getting the care they need; it is about helping patients find the right service to be seen by the right person. This might mean seeing a GP, pharmacist, nurse or another healthcare professional. It can often be as frustration for the GP staff (including the receptionists) as it is for the patient if we can’t get you an appropriate appointment in a timely manner.
What about patient confidentiality?
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 don't need to worry. They’re just helping get you right care, from the most appropriate member of the General Practice team.
What alternatives to a GP might be offered?
Depending on the information given and a patient’s condition, you may be better off seeing a practice nurse, pharmacist, counsellor, physio, walk in centre, minor injuries unit, midwife or dentist. For some cases, such as test results or x rays, you may not need an appointment.
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