The Health and Social Care Board has been working with nidirect to expand public facing online services and make them more readily available to citizens of the north of Ireland. Booking a GP appointment and ordering repeat prescriptions online are now available from 200 of 344 GP surgeries in the north.
This service allows you to find it easier to access your GP surgery services. It will help you to ‘manage’ your own appointments whilst supporting the reduction of missed appointments and avoiding long telephone calls. The service also enables the surgery to align its resources more appropriately including freeing up receptionists to carry out other duties.
Patients will have improved access to prescription services which will help them to better manage their health conditions. This service will reduce patient dependency on GP surgery opening hours, travel time and availability of practice staff to take calls and process prescriptions orders.
Launching the new services Minister for Health Michelle O’Neill said:
“As I set out in ‘Health and Wellbeing 2016 – Delivering Together’, modern information technology offers us tremendous potential to improve how we interact with people to improve services for them. It will not only be more convenient for patients but will also save GP practices time and resources in dealing with appointment booking and repeat prescriptions.
Dr Margaret O’Brien, Head of General Medical Services with the Health and Social Care Board added: “The Board is delighted so many of our GP practices across the north have opted to offer this service to their patients, available on smart phones, laptops or PCs.
“The service allows patients to book, change and cancel appointments or request repeat prescriptions at a time convenient to them day or night 24/7, helping them to Stay Well. These services are an extra option for accessing your GP surgery for those who wish to use them and will not replace traditional ways of contacting your GP surgery such as by phone or in person.”
To use the new online services you must firstly register with your GP. To do this, contact your GP surgery by phone or call in and you will receive a form to complete. Your GP surgery will then send you your personal registration details to get you started using the online services.
Since April 2016, 93,910 GP appointments have been booked and 547,715 prescriptions have been ordered online. In October 2016, 14,125 GP practice appointments were booked online – an increase of almost 1,900 from August 2016. In October 2016, 79,981 repeat prescriptions were ordered online.
Dr O’Brien added: “From April 2016, the Health and Social Care Board has provided funding and training for practice staff in the use of the specific systems to support the provision of online appointment booking and repeat prescription ordering by GP surgeries.
“It is clear these services are needed and well used already, so this expansion is particularly welcome. I would also like to thank those service users who were involved in the design of the presentation of materials available via the nidirect website.”