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Online Consultation Changes - Feedback

A few weeks ago we launched a new system to improve the ways in which our patients can contact us (

Overall it has been successful from our perspective but we appreciate the change has meant a few challenges for our patients.

The biggest advantage of using the new link on our website is that everything can be saved to your medical record at the click of a button. This is much more efficient for us as the previous task of copying correspondence into patient notes was complex, time-consuming, and had the potential for human error, which is much less likely with the new system.

We have received some feedback from patients who have sent emails to us in the past – this might have been to ask for help with a medical condition, to report back to one of the doctors, or with an admin query. The new system does limit the amount of characters you can use and this is something that some patients have found frustrating, especially with regards to the admin queries. The request boxes are limited to a set number of characters and we have raised this with the system supplier; they explained that the number of characters provided is a “medium” that sits between having too few characters where the patient wouldn’t be able to give enough information for us to process the request, and too many which could make the requests cluttered. We do agree that the character limit is too low at the moment, though, and have asked them to increase this if at all possible.

When submitting a request for medical help, the questions patients complete on the online form are designed to find out the information the doctor needs from you. It is important to remember that the doctor who sees the request will have access to your record, so when completing the boxes you can do so knowing that you don’t need to give any history as this will be in your notes.

The lack of characters has especially frustrated patients who have been used to sending us an email. Whilst we no longer have an email address for patients to use, we do have the ability to send an email via the new system, and we can allow a patient to reply via a unique link if needed (with both our email and the reply being integrated to the medical record). We are aware however, that the online forms don’t currently give the option to ask for a reply via email and we are in talks with the system suppliers to see if this can be added as an option.

We are also aware that some patients need to send documentation to us. At the moment you can attach a photograph, but only if you have a medical issue you need help with. We agree the ability to attach a Word document or PDF file would be highly beneficial to both our patients and us, and also that this option needs to appear on the admin requests as well, and we are working with the system supplier to see if this enhancement can be made soon. If you do need to send anything to us, you can take a photograph of the item and attach it to a medical request and we will make sure it gets to the right person.

We really do appreciate that the use of an email address was convenient for our patients, but it was inefficient for us and not as safe as the new system so thank you for understanding why we have made this change. The system providers are generally very responsive to feedback and we are certain things will continue to improve and develop over time. We are really grateful for the support from our patients and we would like to thank you for bearing with us. We will continue to keep you updated as things progress and appreciate any feedback you can offer.


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