Practical help as GP Practices prepare for NHS App connection

After successful testing with more than 3,000 patients across 34 GP practices in England, the NHS App has started its public rollout. To help digital leaders, CCGs, GPs and practice staff to effectively prepare GP practices for connection to the app, an interactive webinar series will run until September.

Covering topics such as connection preparation, NHS Login and how to promote the app to patients so they take control of managing their health, the next webinar is on 3 April.


GP practices free up 3,000 extra patient appointments through Primary Care Network

GP practices in Luton have worked together to provide more than 3,000 extra appointments a year including halving the number of appointments lost due to patient non-attendance | via NHS England

As well as freeing up appointments, the Primary Care Network (PCNs) model has led to friends and family satisfaction with services being positive nine times out of ten, while complaints have fallen by 12 per cent and £50,000 has been saved.

To achieve this, the GPs made a number of changes including altering the types of healthcare professionals in the practice, offering alternative appointments where appropriate and introducing long term conditions clinics.

PCNs are one of the new national approaches unveiled in the NHS’ long term plan this week. In Luton’s PCN, groups of GP practices pool their skills and resources to provide patients with access to more health professionals including GPs, pharmacists, paramedics, physicians associates and specialist doctors.

They can treat patients for a wide range of illnesses, ensuring they see the right person from the start and freeing up the GPs to spend more time with patients who have complex needs.

Full story at NHS England

GP IT Futures framework announced

IT systems in GP practices will be replaced with modern technology under widespread changes announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary | via Department of Health and Social Care

The GP IT Futures framework will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best technology companies to invest in the NHS. All systems will be required to meet minimum standards to ensure they can talk to each other across boundaries.

The current market is dominated by 2 main providers, which slows down innovation and traps GP practices in long-term contracts with systems that are not suited to the digital age.

The framework will look at how patient data will be moved to modern cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to securely access crucial, life-saving information in real time. imac-1999636_1920

By 2023 to 2024 the Department of Health and Social Care want every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally, with practices able to offer online or video consultations.

The changes will free up staff time and reduce delays by allowing seamless, digitised flows of information between GP practices, hospitals and social care settings. It builds on Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s tech vision for the NHS.

The new standards, developed by NHS Digital, will introduce minimum technical requirements so systems can talk to each other securely and are continuously upgradable.

Any system that does not meet these standards will not be used by the NHS and the government will look to end contracts with providers that do not understand these principles for the health and care sector.

Full story: Matt Hancock: shake-up of GP IT will remove outdated systems

Increasing continuity of care in General Practice

The Health Foundation is supporting five large-scale GP practices and federations to carry out targeted improvement work to increase continuity of care in their practices.

The Increasing Continuity of Care in General Practice programme will explore what continuity of care will look like, considering relationships between GPs and patients, and also examining whether better information and management practices can help increase continuity with the aim of bringing benefits to both staff and patients.


This programme is inspired by recent Health Foundation research which demonstrated that patients with ambulatory care sensitive conditions who see the same GP a greater proportion of the time have fewer unplanned hospital admissions. The programme has been developed with the advice and support of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Each project will run for up to two years and each project team will receive up to £250,000 of funding to support the implementation, evaluation and dissemination of findings from their work.

Full story at The Health Foundation

Using quality improvement tools in General Practice

This case study shows how a GP practice used quality improvement tools and approaches from the General Practice Improvement Leaders programme to create a more sustainable way of working | via NHS England

A meeting between partners and the practice’s business manager at Bottreaux Surgery, South West, raised some unexpected concerns that current working levels were unsustainable. Recognising the long-term sustainability of the practice was at risk, the group decided to do something about it and started by first pinning down what they felt the issues were.

The practice used creative thinking tools from the ‘Thinking Differently’ toolkit to begin considering how they could improve their position. Firstly, using the ‘Reframing by word play’ tool, the manager worked with the GPs to draw up a statement that best described what they needed to do to achieve personal sustainability. Their statement was; To be happy and not poorly at work, to have fun at work, and to play more.

Having created their own statement, the GPs felt compelled to change the way they worked.

Full detail: “Had we not made the changes we did the practice would have struggled to survive in the long-term” 

GP online services communications toolkit

NHS England has published a guide for GP practices to promote GP online services to patients 

This communications Support and Resource Guide (SRG) provides practical tools to help  communicate the benefits of GP online services. It is one of a range of guides, developed  to provide tools, tips, best practice and techniques to help the effective implementation and promotion of GP online services to patients and staff.

Other Support and Resources Guides include:

Full document: GP online services Communications Toolkit

Related video: Patient Online: How to promote GP online services to patients

Patients start testing the new NHS App

Patients at a number of practices across England have begun testing the new NHS App | NHS Digital

The NHS App provides simple and secure access to a range of healthcare services on a smartphone or tablet. Developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, the app will enable many patients to register without attending the practice, reducing administrative burden on reception staff.

Once registered, patients can:

  • check their symptoms using NHS 111 online and the symptom checker on the NHS website
  • book and manage appointments at their GP practice
  • order their repeat prescriptions
  • securely view their GP medical record
  • register as an organ donor
  • choose whether the NHS uses their data for research and planning

Feedback from patients and practice staff will be used to help improve the app before it is gradually rolled out to patients across England from December 2018.

Find out more on the NHS Digital Website