Care Navigation is a tried and tested model of care that improves access to primary care services for patients and reduces GP pressures all in one. It allows front line staff to provide patients with more information about local health and wellbeing services, both within and outside of primary care, in a safe, effective way. It is about offering patients choice and help to access the most appropriate service first which is not always the GP. It means that patients will find it easier to get a GP appointment when they need one.
Care navigators are receptionists and admin staff who have been given specialist training to help them direct patients to the right health professional first time.
For example, when a patient presents with symptoms that would be better dealt with by another service such as a pharmacist or optician, patients can be confidently offered these choices, allowing them to go straight to the service which best meets their health and wellbeing needs.
Definition of Care Navigation
“A person centred approach that uses signposting and information to help primary care patients and their carers move through the health and social care system as smoothly as possible to ensure that unmet needs are met.”
This means helping you navigate your way through the often complex health system by giving you as much information as possible to make your own decision and signposting you to the most appropriate health professional.
Why Care Navigation?
Across Blackburn with Darwen we are working hard to make sure that when people need to see a GP, they have access to one quickly and in a way that suits them, be that in person or over the phone.
Sometimes though, the GP isn’t really the best person to see. Patients could be seen and treated quicker by a nurse or a pharmacist for example and in some cases, the GP practice might not be the right place at all for the query. That’s where care navigation comes in.
Care navigation supports practices and patients to make the best use of valuable NHS resources.
Five services are currently available for care navigators to signpost to and more will be added as this develops. These are:
• Minor Eye Treatment Service
• Health and Wellbeing
• Age UK
• Community pharmacy
When a patient contacts the practice for an appointment, the care navigator will ask for a brief outline of the problem so they can identify the patient’s need. This will allow the care navigator to refer to information about services in the practice, other NHS providers and the wider care and support sector. Where appropriate, they will direct the patient to these services
You won’t be asked to divulge any personal or confidential information and you can refuse of course, the option is yours and you will never be refused a GP appointment. Please be assured that if you need to see a GP, you will get to see a GP.
Care navigators will never try to diagnose your problem or offer you clinical advice; this new way of working is about offering you the choice to see other health professionals who will be more appropriate than the GP, and who may often be able to see you quicker and easier.
Their goal is to ensure that patients get the right care at the right time in the right place with the right outcome. For example, when a patient presents with symptoms that would be better dealt with by another service such as a pharmacist or optician, patients can be confidently offered these choices, allowing them to go straight to the service which best meets their health and wellbeing needs.
More information about self care for common conditions that can be treated without the need for a GP appointment can be found at: http://www.selfcareforum.org/fact-sheets/