FAQs for Patients & Carers

You may ask anything that does not require an immediate emergency response. There are generally two categories of question:

  1. An admin or other query, for instance: “have you sent the letter for my referral yet” or “I haven’t heard about my appointment with the diabetic nurse yet, can you help?”
  2. A request for help with a non-emergency medical problem. If you select this option you will be asked to enter the reason you are requesting help e.g. sore throat, back pain etc. and then you will be asked a series of relevant medical questions. The answers to these questions will provide very useful information to help the GP or practice nurse decide what to do next in order to help you best.

In the very unlikely event that you are unable to find a match for the problem that you enter, try another way of describing your problem as simply as possible (e.g. instead of “poorly tummy” try “stomach pain”). If this not successful, you will be prompted to send a simple message about your problem. You will then be contacted to discuss your request over the phone by a GP.

Giving the GP or practice nurse the opportunity to review and think about your problem and list of symptoms before discussing it with you will enable your doctor or nurse to be better prepared and can lead to a more efficient resolution of your problem. There is also evidence that providing the information and being stimulated to think about the medical issue by the questionnaire is a positive experience for patients.

It is difficult to predict how long individual questionnaires will take to complete as each question you are asked depends upon the answer you gave to previous questions. Most questionnaires are completed within 5 to 10 minutes, however, if your problem is particularly complex you may find that it takes longer than this; please bear with the process though as the information will be very useful both to you and the GP or practice nurse who will be be treating you.

You can look at the report of a pilot study using the question system, Instant Medical History, at the following URL: http://www.htmc.co.uk/pages/pv.asp?p=htmc0473

The NHS does not encourage the use of email between medical professionals and patients as normal email is not necessarily secure, this means that your information may not remain private. We take your privacy very seriously. In the future the system will develop so that you can have a secure and private electronic discussion with your general practice and this will be released as soon as possible. It is true that some patients have private arrangements with their doctors which means that they use email, this is entirely between you and your doctor.

Any information gathered is sent directly to your practice. This will then be handled within the practice in the same way as any other information patients provide and will be subject to the usual privacy and security rules. The information you enter, in a totally anonymised fashion, may be used for service improvement however it will not be released to any third parties or be kept in an identifiable format.

We would always encourage people to search out information to help themselves with medical problems where appropriate. We will provide links to established sources of medical information which you may decide to use either to help cope with an existing medical problem or to deal with a new medical problem. Engage Consult provides an efficient method of asking for non-emergency medical help from your General Practice so, if you do decide to self manage a problem you can do so, safe in the knowledge that should you wish to ask for help or advice you will be able to get a response.

Generally yes, most practices who use Engage Consult list the GPs and other staff who are available on a particular day and there is an option for you to choose who you would like advice from. Obviously it is impossible to always guarantee a response from a named individual as they may not be physically available. In the event that the person who you have asked for is unable to respond then you will hear from the practice anyway.

Practice staff will identify patients and their carers when they speak to them in the same way that they currently do. This is no different to current practice and is taken very seriously, if at any time the practice staff are unsure of the identity of the person being spoken to, they will be asked to attend the Practice in person.