Helping patients find the service they need.

What is signposting?

In 2018 West Kent Health embarked upon training GP receptionists across west Kent to become accredited ‘signposters’ or ‘care navigators’.  The training programme is provided by West Wakefield / Conexus Healthcare Ltd whose award winning course is accredited and approved by NHS England (General Practice Awards 2017 – General Practice Forward View Innovations – Developing the Practice Team.  HSJ awards 2018 – Community or Primary Care Services Redesign).

The concept of signposting features heavily in the GP Forward View and is one of the 10 high impact actions to release time for care. It aims to improve productivity and efficiency by patients being directed to the most appropriate place for their care at the point of contact and freeing up GP hours to see complex patients, whilst facilitating meaningful patient choice.

Reception staff are not being asked to triage patients but to offer information so that patients can make informed decisions about their care.  If patients decide that they would still prefer to see their GP, their appointment is made in the usual way.  By providing accredited training and the tools and information required to really help patients, we hope that receptionists will also begin to experience increased job satisfaction.

What we have done so far.

To date almost 400 receptionists from 49 practices across west Kent have been trained in signposting.  In addition to their online training course they have attended various face-to-face sessions.  Representatives from services have taught our reception teams all about what they do and how they can help our patients.  Receptionists follow agreed and approved guidelines and their signposts are recorded in the patient record, ensuring all signposts are safe and auditable.

We are currently working hard to gather data around patient and receptionist experience.  Monthly data showing the number and type of signposts is circulated to practices monthly.  As of May 2019, there have been 1535 signposts accepted by our patients across west Kent, equating to 256 hours of GP time saved – time to spend with those patients whose needs can only be met by a GP.

The services we signpost.

At the moment our reception teams are signposting to:

  • One You Kent
  • Live Well Kent
  • Think Action
  • Community Pharmacies
  • Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioners
  • Drug and Alcohol Services
  • School Health Services
  • Age Well Kent
  • Sexual Health Services
  • Involve Carer Support Services
  • Dental Services

There is a plan to add additional services to the list in Autumn 2019.  Our reception teams will have ongoing training and learning, and we are developing signposting ‘Champions’ who can support their colleagues.  We hope that signposting will free up GP time for complex patients, improve receptionist job satisfaction but most importantly that our patients will be directed to the most appropriate person to meet their needs at the point of contacting their surgery.

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