Patient Prioritisation in General Practice e-learning package launched
28 February 2018

Patient Prioritisation in General Practice e-learning package launched

A new e-learning package that equips general practice teams with knowledge and tools to prioritise requests for urgent appointments has been launched on healthLearn.

Development of the e-learning package, entitled Patient Prioritisation in General Practice, was inspired by some face-to-face training with staff at Travis Medical Centre last year.

Jackie Cooper, Service Integration Facilitator, has been instrumental in making the package available. She said: “One of the daily challenges for primary care is responding to patient requests for urgent appointments, in a way that provides access to the appropriate clinician for the appropriate level of care within an appropriate period of time.

“By helping teams to re-think how they do this, the package may mean that patients are less likely to visit ED unnecessarily.

“It addresses the challenge of face-to-face or telephone prioritisation as an important part of improving safe patient care, as well as having to have a system which is realistic for any practice's available resources.

“It offers ideas about streamlining this process and supporting staff to make safe and appropriate decisions, within a whole-of-team approach to changing how they work.”

The package offers guidance for receptionists and practice nurses to complete three online learning modules then attend three face-to-face sessions, where practice-specific decisions are made.

It aims to:

  • support enhanced patient scheduling and the effective management of the demand for same day appointments in general practice, contributing to a reduced demand for secondary acute services;
  • upskill the general practice workforce (clinical and non-clinical) in relevant communication, documentation, decision-making and risk management through a more standard approach to managing demand for urgent care;
  • reduce clinical risk by raising practice awareness of clinical red flags;
  • support more effective and appropriate use of GP-based resources and 'whole-of-team' skill mix;
  • support practices to meet the requirements of both Cornerstone and Foundation standards relating to the development of a practice-specific prioritisation policy.

It suggests a commitment of around 16 hours (including the three two-hour face-to-face group sessions) to complete the process and comes with support materials including:

  • a plan of action;
  • facilitator session guides;
  • a range of resources to support the development of useful tools.

Jackie continued: “The training turned out to be a real team building exercise as there were lots of assumptions being made about people's skills and knowledge. It gave people confidence to do the (agreed) right thing.”

It also brought to light the need to increase patients’ understanding of why reception staff might ask useful questions, to ensure they get the best care.

The e-learning package will be available mid-March, free-of-charge, at healthLearn. If you haven’t used healthLearn before, you will need to use the icon on the front page to “create an account” to access the package.

For more information, you can contact Jackie Cooper, Service Integration Facilitator, by phoning 021 428 827 or emailing