Partnership project gives people quicker access to care through online consultations

Thousands of patients across Plymouth are getting quicker access to health care advice thanks to a collaborative approach between local GPs and a number of health organisations.

The Devon Digital Accelerator project – which involved local GPs, NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, Healthwatch Devon, the Academic Health Science Network and others – aims to increase online consultation usage to relieve pressure on practices and provide patients with 24-hour access to their GP surgery.

Launched in April 2019, the project currently works with around half of Plymouth’s GP practices, including those most in need of support. 

It has already had a significant impact, with 14,552 online consultations taking place between October to December 2019 – up from 2,064 in the first three months of the project.

People can access service 24-hours a day, via a simple form on the practices’ websites.

The GP surgery then responds to the patient by the end of the next working day to let them know the next step. This might be an appointment, prescription or self-care advice.

Some practices have introduced a model where all interactions with the surgery are be through the online platform – either by completing the form themselves, or with a member of staff from the surgery.

The project is also working with several organisations to evaluate the impact of online consultations on the practices, staff, patients and the wider system.