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33 practices trial system for patients to submit symptoms electronically

Practices in Hull and East Riding are trialling an electronic consultation system which will allow patients to submit their symptoms to a GP electronically and receive a response within one to two working days.

The 33 practices will respond with advice from the GP, directions to other support such as a pharmacist or an appointment booking if necessary.

According to NHS Hull CCG and NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG, the service – eConsult – could see patients avoiding the need to make a visit to the practice altogether.

The service, which the CCGs are trialling for the next 15 months, also offers around the clock NHS self-help information, signposting to services, and a symptom checker.

Patients can also request prescriptions and test results, referral letters and medical reports through the service.

Alex Seale, director of commissioning and transformation at NHS East Riding of Yorkshire CCG said: ‘This is good news for patients who can choose to use the service and get quicker access to health advice.

‘GPs see the people who need their help most which could lead to shorter waiting times.

‘It’s early days yet but so far results are encouraging and we’re hoping to see more people using the online service in the future.’

Last year, NHS England offered GP practices £45m to offer ‘online consultations’ as part of a new injection of IT funding.

However, recent research has found that online consultation systems are not likely to have any notable impact on patient waiting times and could even add to practice workload.