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​Online access for patients - a message from Londonwide LMC​s

Dear Colleagues

As another frantic year in general practice draws to a close we want to remind you of a deadline that is approaching with regards to offering online services to patients.

Every year since the 2014/15 contract introduced patient online access, the contractual requirements for online access have expanded. Current contractual requirements mean that practices should now offer online booking of appointments, ordering of repeat prescriptions and viewing of detailed coded data in patient records. There is also a non- contractual joint commitment between the GPC (General Practitioners Committee) of the BMA and NHS England for every practice to have at least 10% of patients registered for online services by 31 March 2017. In addition to this, and in line with a commissioning objective to extend patient online access wherever possible, Healthy London Partnership (HLP) London region has requested that practices make 80% of their online appointments available to meet patient appointment availability - an ambitious expectation intended to bring patient online access up to the higher targets achieved outside of London.

Undoubtedly the contractual requirements for access for patients online will be set to be more demanding for practices for next year and beyond so do not allow your practice to fall behind by taking action now.

With less than four months to go to the end of March 2017, the latest figures we have been given for Lambeth show that 61.7% of practices have at least 10% of patients registered for online services.

NHS England's Patient Online team have shared the top three tips to increase patient sign up and usage. These are:

  1. When new patients register at your practice, make Patient Online part of the registration process. A guide to assist with the process is available here.
  2. When a patient calls the practice, ensure a message about Patient Online is on your call waiting or answer phone message.
  3. When a patient visits the practice, have promotional items on display. Posters, leaflets, appointment cards and even bunting and balloons can all be ordered for free via the Orderline website (click "GP online services" on the left-hand menu).

It's worth noting that, according to NHS England's Patient Online team, a practice of 6,000 patients would have to register the following number of patients each month to reach the 10% target by 31 March 2017:

DecemberJanuaryFebruaryMarchTotal
0% registered currently150150150150600
2% registered currently120120120120480
5% registered currently75757575300

For further information and support, please contact your London region implementation lead Jane Nicholls at jane.nicholls6@nhs.net or 07710 152 891.

For more information on specific data and any other queries or comments, please contact the Healthy London Partnership Patient Online London Team at ENGLAND.POLLondon@nhs.net.

Best wishes.

Londonwide LMCs