Up-skilling GP Receptionists in the age of the Super-Hub

The recent progress report on the GP Forward View by Simon Stevens should leave us in no doubt that the introduction of the Primary Care Super-Hub, caring for 30,000 – 50,000 patients, is very much front of mind, and indeed funding.

Whether the final model is based on existing and emerging hub models such as Primary Care Home (PCH), Federations or Multispecialty Community Provider (MCP) vanguards, the view from above is that larger is definitely better.

Separately, with the ‘right’ for urgent patients to see a doctor starting to be replaced by a guarantee of clinical triage by a skilled medical professional, and then only seen by a doctor if deemed appropriate, the pressure on Receptionists as the first point of patient contact across Primary Care will inevitably increase.

The focus and funding for training in Active Signposting, one of the GPFV’s Ten High Impact Actions, is therefore particularly welcome. Employing a variety of behavioural psychology techniques and lessons learnt from the world’s leading Customer Service organisations, Receptionists establish a rapport with patients that can help reduce the number of avoidable GP consultations by up to 26% in a traditional, non Super-Hub surgery.

When deployed in a Super-Hub, with a wide variety of health and medical professionals under one roof (physically or virtually) Active Signposting can reach its true potential. GPs who buy into the super-hub concept will start from the premise that the variety of professionals available in the Hub should be used as efficiently as possible, meaning they are likely to be prepared for Receptionists to offer a signposting referral to many more conditions and symptoms than is the tendency for non-hub GPs.

Receptionists, in turn, will have booking access to, and intimate knowledge of the wide scope of professional services available within the hub and will be able to offer and book patients into the most appropriate service for their needs.

This level of knowledge, and the ability to offer a wider variety of signposts, will increase the quality of engagement with patients, creating a virtuous circle that will enable the Super-Hub to function as effectively as envisaged.

In these circumstances, Receptionists evolve from bookers of GP appointments to become Care Navigators, signposting patients away from the GP to more relevant health professionals according to clearly defined protocols. In the process, they will be offering the patient more direct access to the most appropriate health professional for their needs in the shortest possible time, increasing patient satisfaction significantly.

Whilst the arguments for and against Super-Hubs will doubtless continue for some time, their true potential will only be realised when the Hub Receptionists are up-skilled sufficiently to ensure the patient can take full advantage of the wide variety of services available. Active Signposting is a huge step in the right direction.

DNA Insight provides advice and training to GP Practices in Active Signposting, the Coding of Medical Correspondence and Reducing Missed Appointments, three of NHS England’s Ten High Impact Actions designed to transform General Practice as part of the GP Forward View strategy. Contact us on 0800 978 8323 or read more of our Insights at www.dnainsight.co.uk


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