Primary Care Navigation Report

Our report looks into the experience of primary care staff and patients in County Durham

In 2018 Healthwatch County Durham  was approached by the Clinical Commissioning Groups for the County to independently evaluate the Care Navigation system. Care Navigation is the system where trained, non-clinical staff, talk to patients when they book an appointment, providing information about the professionals or services that may be suitable for a patient’s needs. The Clinical Commissioning Groups wanted to understand the views and experiences of staff who were implementing the system and patients who were using it.

To capture the views of both staff and patients we developed two online surveys, one for each group. We emailed the staff survey to Practice Managers, stressing our independence and confidential nature of this work. In addition Healthwatch County Durham staff visited GP practices and talked to staff from 10 surgeries across the County. We utilized a mixed model of engagement to get feedback from patients. This included using social media, publicizing our online survey via our e-bulletin, sharing the survey with partners/networks as well as face to face engagement.

What people told us

When staff were asked if Care Navigation is working well on a day to day basis, 79% responded ‘Yes’. Practice staff were who asked if they felt supported to implement the system. Respondents stated that they were supported by a range of people including GPs, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Patient Participation Groups. 86% of respondents said that they felt supported by other reception/admin staff and 73% felt supported by Practice Managers.

79% of  patient respondents made their appointment by telephone and of these, 62% confirmed that they heard a telephone message explaining that they would be asked some questions to best direct their enquiry. However 25% said they did not hear a message with 13% not being sure. As a result of the conversation with a navigator 64% were given an appointment with a GP.

It’s a good idea as it prevents appointments with doctors being taken up needlessly when the issue can be dealt with by another member of the practice


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Please see below the response to our report and recommendations-this was a joint review for both North Durham and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Groups. Both Clinical Comissioning Groups have acknowledged the content of the report and the main themes that have emerged from the evaluation.

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