Accessing services digitally

You can now use the internet to book some appointments with a GP, request repeat prescriptions for any medications you take regularly and look at your medical record online.

You can also still use the telephone or call in to the surgery for any of these services as well. It’s your choice. Your GP surgery may also offer you a telephone or online appointment,

Being able to see your record online might help you to manage your medical conditions. It also means that you can even access it from anywhere in the world should you require medical treatment on holiday. If you decide not to join or wish to withdraw, this is your choice and practice staff will continue to treat you in the same way as before. This decision will not affect the quality of your care.

Telephone and video appointments with your GP surgery team

A healthcare professional at your GP surgery may wish to speak to you via the telephone or a video call in the first instance. These virtual consultations can save the need for travel and can be fitted around your day-to-day activities.

If your healthcare professional feels they need to examine you in person, you will then be invited into the surgery for a face-to-face appointment. Remember, the person you are offered an appointment with may be one of the many healthcare professionals working in primary care.

Watch Keith describe his experience of telephone and video call appointments.

Telephone and video appointments: Keith’s experience

Telephone and video appointments: Keith’s experience

Transcript of Telephone and video appointments: Keith’s experience video

My name is Keith Beaman and I’m at the Ranworth surgery in clacton and I have had some experience with the online service which means that I get a phone call from my GP and she comes up on my telephone and we can see each other being able to explain my condition and for example if I have rashes on my skin or lumps whatever I can always show him by taking either photographs and sending them to him online or he might observe them actually while he’s talking to me and if there’s any doubt at all then the clinician will always ask me to go back into the surgery and do face to face to make quite sure that everything is as you should be and this does save a lot of time unsure for the GP.

I think what we need to do is really a cultural change where we’re moving from always being able to see a GP face to face as opposed to doing it online and speaking to someone on the telephone I appreciate that’s a new experience and and for some people that would be a real challenge but I would encourage them to give it a go and to try to use this system because it also means they haven’t got to leave their home they can get their appointment on the online and they can talk to the doctor on their phone and receive good treatment and be able to as I say they haven’t got to travel and that is an enormous bonus I think for the elderly they haven’t got to go out especially in the cold weather or whatever it may be so if I would certainly endorse it and recommend it.

Transcript of Seeking help from your GP team video

Hi I’m Nikki Young I’m practice business manager for Abbey Field Medical Centre. You’ve probably noticed the way you access your appointments both in north east Essex and Suffolk has changed in recent times some practices may now offer you a virtual consultation. These will either be via the telephone or over the internet in a confidential one-to-one setting. The benefits of virtual appointments are that they can normally be arranged at a more convenient time and save you the expense and time involved in visiting your GP surgery. When you call your GP the receptionist will ask you what is wrong. This is to help you. The receptionists have been trained to make sure you see the most appropriate clinician and this may not always be a doctor. At GP surgeries now there’s a whole range of well-qualified people. There are social prescribers, there are pharmacists, there are paramedics, there are physiotherapists. These colleagues are also qualified health professionals who can give you expert advice about health related concerns. The receptionist will be trained to book you an appointment with the person most able to help you. On occasion, doctors or any member of the team may telephone you to discuss if any follow-up care is needed. There are now also other services that you can access via your GP surgery to help you if you have concerns which are not necessarily medical. For instance if you are feeling anxious, lonely or isolated, the team at the GP practice might suggest an appointment with a social prescriber or care advisor. These are link workers. They connect people to community groups for practical and emotional support. And lastly, it’s all of our responsibility to look after our own health and this is why there’s a number of areas where you can actually self-refer so you don’t even need to go near your doctor’s surgery. There’s musculoskeletal services, there’s pharmacists and there’s NHS 111. For more information about the services you can access to help you look after your health please access the website on

Patient Access

One way to access services digitally is to register for Patient Access. To register for online services you will need to visit your registered practice, bringing with you two forms of identification. One of these items should include your photograph.

You will be given login details, so you will need to think of a password which is unique to you. This will ensure that only you are able to access your record – unless you choose to share your details with a family member or carer.

Once you are registered for Patient Access you will be able to use the service to:

  • Order your repeat prescriptions
  • Make an appointment
  • Cancel an appointment
  • Change your contact details
  • Review your medications and known allergies

The practice has the right to remove online access to services. This is rarely necessary but may be the best option if you do not use them responsibly or if there is evidence that access may be harmful to you. This may occur if someone else is forcing you to give them access to your record or if the record may contain something that may be upsetting or harmful to you. The practice will explain the reason for withdrawing access to you and will re-instate access as quickly as possible.

Your NHS Account

Registering for an NHS Account brings many of the same benefits as using Patient Access. Users of NHS Accounts (which can be accessed via the NHS app or NHS website) can:

  • access their NHS COVID Pass
  • get advice about coronavirus
  • order repeat prescriptions
  • book appointments
  • get health advice
  • view their health record
  • register their organ donation decision
  • find out and choose how the NHS uses their data
  • view their NHS number
Page last modified: 17 April 2023
Next review due: 17 October 2023