Telephone consulting tips for GPs

Some of our GPs have shared their hints for safe, effective and efficient telephone consultations:

  • A responsive service is a safe service.  Initial telephone assessment by an experienced clinician is well proven over decades through OOH services and in pioneer practices in core hours since 2000.
  • Patients who need or who want to be seen can and should always be seen, and should be offered the same day.  You can ALWAYS ask to see a patient if you feel you need to clinically or if they still want to see you after the phone call, or if their situation deteriorates or fails to improve.
  • Evidence shows 78% of diagnoses can be made on the history alone, probably more in a primary care setting
  • Many patients want advice, information and reassurance and do not necessarily want to see you face to face
  • Listen, without interruption, to the patient’s story for up to two minutes
  • If it is ABSOLUTELY clear that the patient NEEDS to come in to be seen then set this up now - no need to keep talking
  • If it is unclear then keep talking as further enquiry will enable you to come to an agreed plan with the patient
  • Check that the patient is happy with the plan at the end of the call
  • Think what extra information (if any) will be gathered from a face to face encounter
  • There is a range, but evidence shows that typically around 60% of calls are resolved over the telephone.

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