GP Online Consultation - questions and answers
We’ve put these questions and answers together to provide you with the information you need about GP Online Consultation. It is intended to answer any questions you might have about using the service, now available in GP practices across West Yorkshire. If you have a question that isn’t answered here please let us know. You can contact the Digital Programme Team on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We updated these questions and answers in March 2023.
1. What is GP Online Consultation?
GP Online Consultation is where you can submit a request online by answering a few short questions or filling in an online form, available on your GP website or through the NHS App using your smartphone, computer or tablet. Our practices across West Yorkshire are moving to a new provider called PATCHS and you will soon see the PATCHS banners on your GP websites. Your GP might use another name such as eConsultation. This is because some GPs across West Yorkshire are using a different provider. You can still use other ways to contact your GP, for example, over the phone. This is just another way to contact your GP practice. Our two-minute animation tells you more about GP Online Consultation.
2. What can I use GP Online Consultation for?
You can use it to tell your doctor about a new problem and describe your symptoms. If you have a physical symptom, for example, a rash on your skin, you can take a photo and attach that to your request too. You can also make an admin request or anything else you need to tell your practice about. Symptom-specific self-help information is also available together with easy access to other local NHS and self-care services.
3. Why should I use it?
You can use PATCHS whenever and wherever you like, in the same way that you might do your online shopping. Certain times of the day can be very busy so using the online service means no more waiting in a telephone queue or clock watching to ring the practice at a specific time. You can be getting on with the rest of your day instead. It’s convenient and easy to use; just follow the instructions on your GP website.
4. When will the practice get back to me?
Your GP practice will aim to respond to you within two working days, although this can sometimes vary.
5. How does my practice use the information?
The practice sets time aside every day to make sure queries are dealt with by the right person in the team, helping to make sure everyone is served as quickly and in the best way possible. If the GP surgery needs to get in touch they may suggest a telephone or video consultation so you don’t have to come into the practice. You and your GP team agree together what the next best step is.
6. What should I not use PATCHS for?
Don’t use PATCHS in an emergency. You should dial 999 immediately if you or someone else is having a heart attack or stroke or if you think someone has had a major trauma, such as a serious road traffic accident, a fall from a height or a serious head injury. If you need advice or medical treatment quickly, but it’s not a 999 emergency and you cannot wait for an appointment with your doctor you can ring 111 – the telephone service brought to you by the NHS. You shouldn’t use PATCHS to ask your doctor a general question that isn’t about you. Use the information available on the NHS website instead.
7. What about people who don’t use digital?
We know that technology is not for us all and that some of us can’t, or prefer not to, use online services. But if you can use PATCHS, please do so. That’s because it helps free up busy telephone lines for people who can’t or don’t want to use online facilities.
8. Why isn’t the service always available 24 hours a day, seven days a week?
We encourage all GP practices to provide GP Online Consultation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, there may be times when your GP practice has to limit the use of the system outside of practice opening hours, for example when they are very busy and need to put steps in place to deal with increased demand for services to make sure they can continue to meet patient needs. Even when the GP Online Consultation service is unavailable, patients still have access to self-help advice, NHS 111, and out of hours services.
9. Can I access my GP practice through the new NHS App?
This depends on what system your GP uses for their GP Online Consultation. The vast majority of practices in West Yorkshire are now using a system which is linked to the NHS App. If your practice is using one of these, you can submit an online consultation request via the ‘advice’ tab on the App and clicking ‘ask your GP for advice’. Where this is not available via the App, you can still submit an online consultation request via the practice website.
10. What feedback have you had?
Patients have reported that they find Online Consultation quick and easy to use and a lot better than being in a phone queue. If you’d like to share your experience of using GP Online Consultation and how it compares to other more traditional ways, such as over the phone, please send an email to: email@example.com.
11. How many people use GP Online Consultations?
Over 750,000 online consultations took place between January and December 2022. As GP Online Consultation becomes more widely known we expect to see more people using it.
12. Who provides the service?
West Yorkshire Integrated Care System have recently procured a new Online Consultation system called PATCHS for practices across West Yorkshire. However, there are still a small number of other systems in use. We have listed these below:
The main product in West Yorkshire is PATCHS which accounts for approximately 95% of the patient population.
13. English isn’t my first language, how do I find out more?
PATCHS has a language translation capability and provides translation to over 30 of the most common non-English speaking languages. You can submit a request to your GP and receive a response in your preferred language.
We have produced an animation about GP Online Consultation in:
English including an in-vision signer using British Sign Language (BSL)
14. How can I find out if my surgery does online consultations?
99% of practices in West Yorkshire use GP Online Consultations. Find your GP surgery to get their website details.