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GPs surveyed on use of online and telephone consultations

Primary care researchers have launched a survey of UK practices to find out how many GPs are offering email, video or telephone consultations, as part of a project aimed at learning from GPs’ experiences of alternatives to face-to-face consultation and developing guidance on how best to implement them.

The survey takes less than five minutes to complete and asks how often GPs currently offer email, internet video or bookable telephone consultations and whether they plan to use them in the future.

The academics, led by Professor Chris Salisbury at the University of Bristol, said that while NHS England and the Scottish Government are urging practices to adopt alternative forms of consultations, there is still little evidence so far on how and when they are useful.

Once they have the survey data, the team intends to carry out more in-depth research with eight practices with varied levels of experience in using online or telephone consultations, and come up with resources and recommendations for GPs.

The researchers said: ‘Based on our findings we will develop a website resource and recommendations for general practices about the most promising applications of alternatives to face-to-face consultations for different patient groups, for different purposes and in different practice contexts.

‘These recommendations will be developed by the research team and optimised and validated at a workshop involving patients, GPs and other stakeholders.’