Surgery News

We’re making small changes that will have a big difference!

UK GP practices are undergoing changes to improve healthcare accessibility and to address issues such as long waits for appointments and busy phone lines.

These changes are mandatory and have become part of the NHS contract for GP practices. Health Care First are also implementing changes to improve patient experiences.

It’s important to remember, that changes to online or digital systems only apply to those patients who are able to use these methods to contact us. We can still be contacted in person or over the phone for those who struggle to use or access technology.

Online access

Many of you may already be familiar with the PATCHS system, it’s an online platform that allows you to interact with us to book or cancel appointments, request sick/fit notes, view test results and order medication.

You can also use the new NHS App to do these things as well. The NHS app is great for people with busy lives, it helps you manage your health quickly and on the go.

We encourage patients to use these as your first port of call when getting in touch with us, in many cases it will be the quickest and simplest way for you to get in touch and it helps us to process your health care needs faster.

Call Menu

When you call the practice, you will come through to an automatic call menu, which will give a range of call options, rather than sending you straight to a care navigator.

By listening to and using the appropriate option for your call, you will be able to speak to an appropriate member of staff quicker and free up the phoneline for other patient queries that are not covered in the call menu.

  • Use line 1 to cancel appointment.
  • Use line 2 to book appointment.
  • Use line 3 to arrange home visits or contact healthcare professionals.
  • Use line 4 for prescriptions and sick notes queries.
  • Use line 5 for referral and insurance queries.

Care Navigation

One of the biggest changes you may directly experience in your healthcare journey is
interactions with our Care Navigators.

Care Navigators are the gateway to the wider healthcare service, they help to assess each and every patient request alongside our clinical sorting team to ensure that every healthcare need is assessed and directed to the appropriate place.

Care navigator deal with online request, phone requests and when you visit us with an in-person request, they will likely be your first point of contact in the practice.

Telephone Assist

You don’t always need to speak to a care navigator to get a health care need addressed. Our phonelines now have a Telephone Assist.

Telephone Assist gives you the option to tell us about your healthcare need and answers our clinical sorting questions over a recorded phone line, without having to wait in a queue.

This recording will then go straight to our care navigators and clinical sorting team for processing. We’ll contact you back with appointment or an alternative care offer.


In some instance a Care Navigator may direct your health care support enquiry outside of Health Care First GP practice to a self-referral service.

Self-referral services are NHS and government services commissioned to support with a specific health care need. Self-referral services are experts in their field, they are easy to contact online or over the phone and they will usually be able to provide you with health care support quicker than a traditional GP referral.

Wider health care team

Health Care First and other GP practices across the NHS now employ a large team of healthcare professionals.

We have many specialized staff members such as: Advanced Nurse Practitioner, Social Prescribing Link
Workers, Health and Wellbeing Coaches and more.

In all instances these staff are highly trained individuals who are experts in delivering specific types of care and for certain medical conditions you may be referred to them instead of a GP.

Pharmacy First

Not every medical need requires the support of a doctor or nurse. The NHS has greatly expanded the role of pharmacies in treating minor illnesses and supporting with medicine-related queries.

Pharmacies often have more availability than GP practices to deal with these types of medical interventions, so you may be referred to them to for quicker care. Pharmacists also have the best expertise and advice for treating minor illnesses and medication queries.

Priority Access

In the past Health Care First has always distributed appointments on a first come first served basis.

This system works well when demand for our services is low, however the last few years have seen record
high demand meaning available appointments have had a significant wait. This presents a significant risk to those with serious medical conditions, difficult personal circumstances or who have problems accessing appointments.

As a result, we have adjusted our appointment policy meaning those who have a priority needs, listed on their medical record, will be able to get appointments quicker.

This may mean more routine appointments or enquiries and appointments or enquires for less serious conditions may have slightly longer waits.

However, this system will ensure that those that need appointments the most will always get quick and easy access.

All these changes are part of Health Care First ongoing commitment to providing you with the best possible care. At Health Care First your health is our priority.

Your health our priority