From November, GP practices in Redditch and Bromsgrove will be launching a new Healthcare Navigation Scheme which aims to offer patients the choice to see the most appropriate person, without the need to see a GP each time. The Healthcare Navigator role will be introduced in GP practices in the Redditch and Bromsgrove area and will consist of GP practice staff (including administration and clerical staff) being trained to provide a greater role in signposting patients when they call up their GP surgery for an appointment.
We listened and acted on feedback from a patient survey that took place earlier this year in order to implement this new scheme. With the support of funding from NHS England, GP Practice staff have received training delivered by Birmingham City University which includes a mixture of online learning and face-to-face training sessions along with in-practice training and support. Birmingham City University were one of the contributors to Health Education England’s Care Navigation framework published in 2016. Redditch and Bromsgrove CCG has worked with the University to develop a training programme that covers all of the essential elements of this framework along with local information that is useful for Healthcare Navigators to undertake this new way of working. A number Practice Managers and several patient representatives including members of GP Practice Patient Participation Groups have also contributed to the content and design of this scheme.
Dr Sally Hetherington, a Redditch GP who is part of the Healthcare Navigation project team said: “Across Redditch and Bromsgrove we are working hard to make sure that when people need to see a GP, they have access to one quickly and in a way that suits them, be that in person or over the phone. We know that sometimes patients find navigating health services difficult and in some cases the GP practice might not even be the right place for the query. For example
- Infected wounds can be seen by the nurse
- Urine infections can be dealt with by our clinical pharmacist
- Referral queries can be dealt with by the secretary
- Sick notes – you do not always need to see a GP. The healthcare navigator may be able to leave a message for the GP to print this for you.
It’s about giving patients choice, supporting and guiding them with the right information. Also utilising the skills of other professionals who have the expertise to deal with the problem; often quicker and without the need to see the GP.”
As you can see there are some simple solutions to making more GP appointments available.
Healthcare Navigation staff, like all members of the team are bound by confidentiality rules;
- Any information given by you is treated in the strictest confidence
- The practice takes any breach of confidentiality very seriously and will deal with it accordingly
- However if you feel an issue is very private and do not wish to say what this is then we will respect your decision.
Patients had their say:
A patient questionnaire that has been completed recently by the CCG, on our local population demonstrated that 69% of patients would be very happy/happy/fine discussing their problem with a trained Healthcare Navigator first. It also has shown that there is a lack of awareness of the many services available locally that might be an alternative option to seeing a GP. These other services often have more time to spend and have in depth expertise in their area of specialism.
Patient Frequently Asked Questions
Why does the Healthcare Navigator ask me what’s wrong?
It is not a case of the Healthcare Navigators being nosy!
The Healthcare Navigation staff are members of the practice team and it has been agreed they should ask patients 'why they need to be seen'. The team are trained to ask certain questions in order to ensure that you receive:
- The most appropriate care
- From the most appropriate person
- At the most appropriate time.
Healthcare Navigators are asked by the Doctors at the practice to collect brief information from patients
- To ensure that all patients receive the appropriate level of care
- To direct patients to see the most appropriate person to meet their needs.
Why does the Healthcare Navigator need to know why I want an appointment?
This is because they have a number of alternative types of appointments available to them, and they need to offer you the most appropriate appointment to deal with your problem. The most appropriate appointment may be with the GP for example, or perhaps with another member of the practice team.
Sometimes a longer appointment is needed for certain lengthy procedures, and also some clinics are only held on certain days due to practice staff availability.
Why are we asked to make an appointment to see a doctor for certain repeat medications?
Regular and careful monitoring of all prescribed medicines is essential, for example, antidepressants, blood pressure medications, hormone replacement therapy and oral contraception.
Download Our Healthcare Navigator Posters Here:
Why does the Healthcare Navigator need to ask what’s wrong with me?
The New Way to Be Seen - Options Poster
Pharmacist conversation - Options Poster