Signposting Practice

The situation

It’s no secret that your NHS is under pressure. Illnesses are becoming more complicated, the population is living longer and budgets are being cut.

The result

Your GP’s patient list is growing.

This, as some patients may have experienced, means that securing an available appointment with your GP is becoming more and more difficult.

The solution

To save you the hassle of a trip to your GP surgery, your NHS now offers a number of community services and self-care options that you can access without the need for seeing your GP in the first place.

But how are you, the patient, able to find out about what services and options are available to you?

The reception team at your GP surgery are now trained as ‘active signposters’

What does this mean?

If you request an appointment at your surgery, the receptionist may ask you the reason why you are calling.

If you provide the reason for your call, there is a possibility that the receptionist may be able to give you information about any services or self-care sources that you could access for your symptoms, without the need for seeing your GP.

It is then your choice what to do with the information you are provided with.

Put simply, your GP surgery is empowering you to get the best help, first time.

Important things to keep in mind

Active signposters provide information not advice. You choose what to do with the information you are given.

  • You do not have to say what your symptoms are if you do not wish to, but doing so may get you the help and information that you need more easily (and possibly, quicker)
  • Receptionists are not trying to be doctors or make medical assessments
  • Receptionists are duty bound to respect your confidentiality at all times, in exactly the same way as your GP or nurse
  • All active signposters have received rigorous, in-depth training from accredited trainers
  • GPs and their staff are supporting and encouraging this programme
  • ‘Active signposting’ is a national programme being rolled out across the country – funded by NHS England and promoted by RCGP