Care Navigation


Active Signposting


A Win-Win for everyone

in the GP Practice Community

Care Navigation


Active Signposting

A Win-Win for everyone in the GP Practice Community

Care Navigation
Active Signposting

A Win-Win for everyone
in the GP Practice Community




What is Active Signposting?

Active Signposting, also known as Care Navigation, is a Win-Win for the entire Practice community. It offers the potential to free up to a quarter of GP’s consultation time each day by referring patients that do not need to see a Doctor to a more appropriate member of the practice team or external service or group.

It has long been accepted that around a quarter of patients visiting or calling the Practice don’t actually need to see a doctor – they could safely and effectively be seen by an external service or by another member of the Practice team. The size of that team has grown significantly in the last year or so with the addition of AHPs such as First Contact Physiotherapists, Practice Pharmacists and Social Prescribers, all able to help patients and free up time for the GP to care for those patients with the most complex needs.

By 2023/24, the size of the Practice team will have  grown even further, with a total of 12 different  roles available for recruitment to the PCN through the ARRS. With such a large and diverse health workforce available to care for patients it is more crucial than ever before that Reception teams are trained and practised in Active Signposting and able to signpost patients to the most appropriate AHP. 

Sitting at the heart of the Practice’s multi disciplinary team, the Reception team has a vital role to play in triaging patient calls and ensuring that patients are able to access the right care for their needs, from the right health professional at the right time.

The ‘ReceptionPlus’ Programme

DNA Insight’s ‘ReceptionPlus™’ training programme for GP Practices is designed in accordance with Health Education England’s Competency Framework for Care Navigators.

Successful completion of the course meets the requirements of the ‘Essential Level’ of the three tiered Competency Framework, designed for GP Practice Care Navigators. As such, it also provides a qualifying level of CPD for those seeking to build a career in Care Navigation throughout the NHS

Our ‘ReceptionPlus’ programme is a flexible training package designed to meet the needs of GP Practices in which staff are working at full capacity. It recognises that Practices have differing levels of readiness to adopt Active Signposting and the Programme is therefore customised to suit the unique needs of each individual Practice or PCN.

The Programme is conducted through initial consultation with PCN Leads and their Practice Managers to determine the services ready for signposting in their PCN, and the desired outcomes and timescales of the Programme. This information is then used to build the unique scenarios and exercises deployed in the Workshop part of the Programme.

The consultation is followed by a morning or afternoon face-to-face workshop for Receptionists which lasts 3 hours and is led by an accredited DNA Insight consultant. Typically, Receptionists are brought together from different surgeries in a PCN/Locality for group training.

The optimum number of participants at each Workshop is 15-20. Whilst this can be increased to a maximum of 25 if desired, it can extend the duration of the Workshop slightly in order to accommodate the necessary role play exercises.

A number of sessions are normally needed in each Locality area to accommodate those Receptionists who are part time or who need to cover while others attend the Workshop.

The Active Signposting Workshop

Our entire approach to Active Signposting is Outcome based, and we recognise that every GP Practice and Locality is unique in in terms of its readiness for the introduction of Active Signposting.

In addition to the pre-training consultation with Locality/Neighbourhood Leads and Practice Managers, we also provide 12 months of post-training support to Practice Managers and GPs to help them embed Active Signposting in the Practice. This also allows us to capture the qualitative and quantitative data needed to demonstrate the value of Signposting to other Practices and the CCG.

The first part of the Workshop is largely focused on sharing the techniques used to establish a rapport with patients, and encourage them to share the general nature of their symptoms.

The second part is a scenario based exercise in which Receptionists take it in turns to play the patient and the Care Navigator, using scenarios crafted from the earlier discussions with Practice Managers. This enables Receptionists to feel comfortable about engaging with patients in a more proactive manner and significantly increases the likelihood of a successful Signpost. It also provides validation that delegates can successfully the techniques learnt.

The Workshop Syllabus includes the following topics:

The background of Active Signposting and Care Navigation

Benefits to the Practice, patients and staff

Case studies of other Care Navigators, including videos of Care Navigators in Wakefield and London

Techniques to engage effectively with patients and manage typical patient concerns around discussing symptoms

Accessing, using and updating a Service Directory

The concept of Red Flags and the protocols to be followed

Scenario based Roleplay covering techniques, and implementation of Red Flags protocol

Timescales and process for introduction

Entering and Recording Signposting data for later analysis

Summary and Questions

The Service Directory 

In the initial stages of the introduction of Active Signposting, Receptionists are likely to use a range of existing informal paper based address books, notebooks, telephone directories, scraps of paper and personal knowledge. To make Active Signposting truly effective however, the knowledge base should be collated and held in a single online directory, accessible to Receptionists throughout the Practice.

The Service Directory Development

DNA Insight can create, introduce, host and manage the Directory web-based application for Locality based Practices, populating it with the normal categories of service provider expected and required within the Signposting process.

Updates to the directory are subsequently completed using simple online forms, responsibility for which can be shared with all receptionists or restricted to nominated Admin staff. Ongoing telephone based support is provided to users for any queries that may arise or help that is needed.

Benefits for Practices

The ‘ReceptionPlus’ Program frees up GP time, releasing up to 26% of demand for GP consultations in those Practices that embrace it fully. It makes more appropriate use of each Practice team member’s skills and increases job satisfaction and self-esteem for Receptionists.

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