1 Get a document receiving system
The number of dispersal documents is likely to go up over time as NHS 111 is fully rolled out, so you will need a document receiving system to deal with them. The problem is that different practices will be receiving them differently – some via email, some via faxes etc, so you need a system to cope with that.
2 Check all documents
Everything should be looked at by a clinician – even if it is a cursory examination – to ensure no action is needed by the practice and it is completely covered from a medico-legal viewpoint.
3 File everything in the patient record
Then the documents all need to be entered in the records and plugged into the existing practice procedures, whether that is Docman or Apollo Scan.
4 Contact patients, but only if needed
Just because the computer algorithms suggest a patient needs to be seen/assessed within so many hours does not mean that they do. GPs are the de facto senior clinician and so should make their own assessment of need and urgency in the usual way.
5 Explain what has happened
The difference between the two procedures may be difficult for patients to understand, so GPs may need to explain why they are making the decisions they are, in much the same way we do at present.
Dr Russell Brown is GPC rep for East and West Sussex, chair of East Sussex LMC and a GP in Eastbourne