Insights, news and views from the team.
November 1, 2023

Our commitment to ending the 8am phone rush

This week, we launched a commitment to help 1,000 GP surgeries tackle the 8am phone rush by implementing a Modern General Practice Access (MGPA) model by early 2024. The commitment is part of our 5-point plan to help primary care more easily manage demand and improve access, detailed in our new report - ‘A Blueprint for Recovering Access’. 

As you can probably tell, we are doubling down on helping primary care improve access for patients. Why? Because we firmly believe, and have done for a long time now, that the only way healthcare delivery can be sustainable is to move away from an appointment first approach. 

The numbers clearly show that it isn’t working anymore. The ratio of GPs to patients is declining whilst demand from patients is surging. It is becoming increasingly difficult to deliver a timely service and continuity of care with these pressures, and so patient satisfaction and staff morale is declining. 

If primary care is to continue to support patients as the ‘front door’ to our health system, we need to implement new ways of working that will enable our existing workforce to manage demand more easily. Primary care is undeniably the bedrock of the NHS, and we want to support it the best we can. 

That’s why we’re going all out to help ICBs and practices implement it. This week, we launched our new report - ‘A Blueprint for Recovering Access’ - which details our 5-point plan to support 1,000 GP practices to unlock the power of the MGPA model in their surgery. It includes the following measures:

  1. A hands-on, comprehensive 12-week onboarding programme for practices who have procured Patient Triage, including 1-1 training calls, webinars, training resources and change management guidance to support the change to a Modern General Practice Access model.
  2. A free trial of Patient Triage for practices, so that they can try out our leading triage solution before committing funds.
  3. A training pack for GP practices, to give them a comprehensive set of insights and tips to help them optimise their workflows for Modern General Practice Access.
  4. Ready-to-use materials to help practices guide patients through the change in system, such as posters, demos, informative videos and staff telephone scripts.
  5. A user community forum for total triage, where GP practices can share learnings and access supportive content and advice from over 600 other healthcare professionals.

And to demonstrate the power of the MGPA model, we ran market research with 373 GP staff, which reveals the outsized impact it is having on their ability to manage demand and enhance access: 

  • 81% of primary care staff who already run a MGPA model say that since its implementation, their practice is better equipped to keep up with inbound patient demand
  • Three quarters (75%) say that they are able to provide a more equitable service, where patient requests are prioritised based on clinical need
  • 65% say that since implementing it, patients are more satisfied with their service
  • Half (50%) say that they are happier in their day-to-day role, and 58% say their workload is more manageable

We also examined the data for some of the individual practices who are flipping the appointment model on its head. Take St Andrews Health Centre in London, where 99% of patient requests are resolved within 48 hours, with an average response time of 30 minutes. Or Peel Hall Medical Centre in Manchester, who’ve seen 24% less calls and 96% of requests resolved within 48 hours. 

We can’t ignore these findings. This data demonstrates the power of a more needs-based model of care, where patients are triaged first to understand if their request can be resolved through messaging, instead of default offering an appointment. In fact, tracking our product data more closely, we think that between 25-50% of patient requests can be resolved through messaging, to free up clinical capacity to see patients who truly need face-to-face appointments. 

We want to support ICBs and practices to move away from the one-size-fits-all model of appointments to a more sustainable system that works for patients, staff and the NHS as a whole.

Hear it from those on the frontline…

Professor Sir Sam Everington, GP in Tower Hamlets and Vice President of the British Medical Association: “Modern telephone systems are of course important, but good access is about getting the patient to the right place, first time, through a proper online triage system. This involves encouraging patients to fill in an online form, so that GP teams are properly briefed on their issue and can direct them and deliver them to the most appropriate form of care. This can often be via messaging, e.g. via text or email.

“For many years in Tower Hamlets we have been running this model with greatly improved access. General practice is key to restoring the NHS and cutting waiting lists. As the pandemic and following years have shown, primary care is brilliant at coming up rapidly with innovative solutions. The challenge is to spread good practice across the country.” 

Dr Johan Byran, GP Partner, The Crouch Hall Road Surgery and PCN Clinical Director: “We implemented this model in our practice because the traditional model isn’t fit for purpose any more with the demand levels we experience. Now, we’re able to plan for demand across the week and risk stratify, so that patients with urgent matters are responded to quickly and efficiently, and in a matter of hours. Almost immediately, we saw a measurable reduction in wait times on the phone and overall phone calls, since patients were filling out the online triage form instead. This means that patients who prefer to phone up can more easily get through. By no longer giving appointments out on a first come first served basis and resolving more requests remotely, we have improved access for our patients.”

Need support moving to Modern General Practice? Download our report today to learn more or contact to see how Accurx can help your GP practice, ICB or PCN take control of patient demand.