NEW Online Consult Platform – 01/04/2022

Online Consult provides an online portal where patients can self-check their symptoms, and receive on the spot medical advice 24/7.

This helps to relieve pressure on GPs by giving patients access to round-the-clock support and alternative treatment providers.

Online Consult link

As part of its Digital Transformation Strategy, NHS England embarked on a series of schemes, using technology to empower people to take control of their health and care through secure online access to clinicians, personalised health information, digital tools and advice that help patients to better manage their conditions. One of such initiatives, the GP Online Consultation, was launched in 2017 whose main objective is to empower patients and make it easier for clinicians to deliver high quality care and enabling patients to seamlessly navigate the service.

The online consultations are a way for patients to contact their GP practice without having to queue on the phone or take time out of their busy lifestyles to come into the practice. With a few clicks using a smartphone, tablet or computer, people can contact their GP practices about a new problem or an ongoing issue. They can ask questions or tell their GP about their symptoms. The practice will ensure their query is dealt with by the right person in the team, helping ensure everyone is served as quickly and appropriately as possible.

The GP Online Consultation is fully funded by NHS England as part of the General Practice Forward View. Through the GP Online Consultation Systems Fund the project was launched to support practices to explore and successfully embed models of online consultations as part of providing ‘Right Care, at the Right Time and in the Right Place’ which benefits both patients and staff.

As published in January 2019, the GP Online Consultation becomes a contractual requirement for GP practices from April 2020 as stipulated in the Five-Year Framework for GP Contract reform which all sit within the NHS Long Term Plan. It is anticipated that by April 2020, the following will be achieved;

  • all practices will be offering online consultations
  • all patients will have online access to their full record, as the default position, subject to existing safeguards for vulnerable groups and third party confidentiality and system functionality
  • all practices will need to have an up-to-date and informative online presence, with key information being available as metadata for other platforms to use
  • all practices will be giving all patients access to online correspondence as the system moves to digital by default (with patients required to opt-out rather than in)
  • practices will no longer use facsimile machines for either NHS or patient communications

By April 2021 at the latest, all practices will be offering video consultations.

Benefits of GP Online Consultation

  • Patients can tell the practice about their query or problem, by using a mobile or online portal and receive a reply, prescription, call back or other kind of appointment.
  • Enables patients to access information about symptoms, conditions and treatments, and connect to self-help options as well as being signposted to appropriate services at a relevant time. 
  • Frees up time for GPs, allowing them to spend more time managing complex needs;
    • Two thirds of online consultations are managed by the GP entirely remotely, with about a third of online consultations being followed up with a face to face consultation
  • Improves the service for patients. Evidence to date indicates that online consultation systems can free up time for GPs to spend more time leading complex care for those who need it.
  • Overall, it creates an integrated digital experience that supports patients to access appropriate services based on their needs.

NHS England Online Consultation general information