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2.1 Quick facts - Phone consultations

Use of the telephone for consultations is growing rapidly in general practice. Some practices have been offering this kind of consultation for ten years or more, but interest has grown significantly since about 2012. From a starting point of treating phone contacts as brief triage encounters, practices are increasingly recognising the feasibility and value of fully addressing the patient’s need in a single phone contact where appropriate. Experienced consulters generally find phone consultations are half the length of face-to-face ones, and that approximately 75% of consultations can be fully concluded on the phone. This releases GP time, reducing waiting times for patients, and making it easier to offer better continuity and longer face-to-face appointments for patients who need it. Most practices implement phone consultations as part of other changes, for example the introduction of active signposting and redesign of systems to create more productive workflows, particularly with a focus on matching capacity with patterns of demand through the week.

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