COVID-19 GP answer machine messages

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Nottingham and Nottinghamshire conducted a mystery shopping exercise with 59 GP surgery answering machine messages. This method was used to collect information about what is shared on GP answer machines in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results found that there was inconsistent messaging in regard to whether surgeries are open or not. Not all practices provided clear information on COVID-19 symptoms, isolations and NHS 111. Additionally, it was found that further help was offered but limited to those with internet access.

The recommendations include that all surgeries should use a standard message about opening times, availability of appointment types, COVID-19 symptoms and what action to take when you cannot access NHS 111 online.

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General details

Report title 
COVID-19 GP answer machine messages
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Nottingham City
Healthwatch Nottinghamshire
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 14 April, 2020
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 6 April, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Information providing
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Does the information include other people's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.