Published by BBC NEWS - 2nd February 2024
  • Published
A stethoscope on a desk with a silver laptop in the backgroundImage source, Getty Images

Online services for GPs across Surrey leave many patients feeling “helpless and lost”, a new report says.

Healthwatch Surrey said some patients felt “defeated” by online systems and that issues were worse in certain groups.

This included people with English as a second language and those less confident with technology.

Surrey Heartlands said it had been listening to feedback to make online access “as easy as possible”.

Online services include booking appointments, requesting repeat prescriptions and viewing test results.

Healthwatch Surrey, which gathers the views of local people on health and social care services in the county, said: “Confusion around the appointment booking process and a perception that appointments are hard, or even impossible, to book online is the issue people tell us most about.

“This leaves many people feeling helpless and ‘lost’, in or outside the system.”

Online ‘defeats me’

One Epsom and Ewell resident was asked by their surgery to book a blood test online.

They told Healthwatch: “I tried but I couldn’t understand how to do it and so I called back.

“I’m in my 80s and I try to be as independent as I can, but some of these processes defeat me.”

Sam Botsford, contract manager at Healthwatch Surrey, said communication was key in ensuring patients knew how to use online services.

She said: “People feel they’re being pushed online, and that spans a range of different demographics.

“It’s really important for practices to identify the needs of their patients and how they can best meet those.”

Nikki Mallinder, director of primary care at Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership, said: “We understand that not everyone will want, or be able to, access online services.

“But some people tell us they prefer to access services in this way because they find it easier and more convenient to go online.”

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