Dudley is pioneering a new scheme which aims to make it easier for patients to get support to be healthy.
Eight GP receptionists have received special training to enable them to point patients in the right direction of support services available to them in the community, over and above that offered by their doctors.
It is hoped this healthy living GP practice initiative will reduce the number of unnecessary appointments, and make it easier for people who do need to see their GP.
The surgeries taking part in the initial pilot are Lion Health, Woodsetton Medical Practice, Kingswinford Medical Practice, Eve Hill Medical Practice, The Waterfront Medical Practice, The Ridgeway Medical Practice, Feldon Lane Medical Practice and Quarry Bank Medical Practice.
GP receptionists have received special training to help patients
If successful, it will be rolled out to all 41 GP practices across the borough.
It is being led by Dudley Council’s public health team in conjunction with Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Trained receptionists will be able to provide information on services to promote self-care of long-term conditions, minor ailments, or anxieties, while reducing the number of inappropriate GP consultations.
Deborah Harkins, Chief Officer for Health and Wellbeing at Dudley Council, said:
This project is all about empowering people to make healthy choices and benefit from support in the community to improve their lives without needing to make an unnecessary doctor’s appointment.
GP receptionists are a massively underused resource. They are literally at the end of the phone and are always the first people to be seen by patients.
Our scheme positions receptionists to be the first port of call for advice on the support available to keep healthy.
We hope that by training receptionists to give information on where to go to access things like cold medication or support to stop smoking, local social groups to join to combat loneliness, or debt advice; people will feel able to ask for advice to improve their health and happiness.”
Dr Gillian Love, one of the borough GPs overseeing the Healthy Living Practices scheme on behalf of Dudley Public Health, said:
Healthy Living Practices will support our population to stay well by directing them to appropriate health and wellbeing services available in their communities.
This will help people to be less doctor dependent and empower them to recognise conditions that can be avoided or managed themselves.
Guidance on first contact with practice frontline staff to help people use the wide range of public services and health and wellbeing facilities in their community should allow better, more appropriate access to more advanced medical care for those with more complex care needs."