25 September 2017

Care Navigators Such as Receptionists are not Replacements for GPs

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: "Care navigators are not replacements for GPs – or practice nurses, pharmacists, or any other healthcare professional working in primary care – and if a patient really needs to see a GP, then they will be able to. Care navigation simply means helping people to get to the best person and place to receive timely care – this could be medical or in some cases identifying non-medical sources of help.

"All members of the GP practice team already play a pivotal role in delivering holistic patient care – and if receptionists or other administrators can receive extra training to become care navigators then this will be to the benefit of the practice, and our patients.

"This was a key pledge in NHS England's GP Forward View, and we are pleased to hear it is being piloted in some areas of the country. It is important that these pilots are rigorously evaluated to ensure that patients are benefitting.

"General practice is facing intense resource and workforce pressures with GPs across the country delivering more than 1.3m patient consultations a day. Care navigators can offer patients the time that GPs often don't have – and free up GPs' time to see the patients who really need their expert medical care. They can also help patients to understand what can be a very complicated health service, to ensure they receive the most appropriate care for their health needs.

"Ultimately, we need the pledges in the GP Forward View - including £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5,000 more full time equivalent GPs by 2020 - to be delivered so that our profession has enough GPs, and the resources it needs in order to continue delivering quality care to all of our patients now and for years to come."

 Further Information

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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.