Experiences of digital and telephone appointments

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Wandsworth developed an anonymous survey to ask their local people to share their views and experiences on how digital and telephone appointments with GPs and other health and care services has impacted them since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. They also worked to reach a wider community via 1 to 1 interviews and online forums for further insight - this included groups with special educational needs, faith groups and different age groups.

  • They found that views and experiences of using digital and telephone appointments were mixed, even amongst different sections of the community.
  • Some praised and preferred telephone appointments, particularly for routine checks. Common reasons included needing less time to go to the surgery and not having to wait in the waiting room and for those who may have difficulty leaving home.
  • Others fed back negative experiences of digital and telephone appointments. They most often referenced long waiting times to speak to healthcare personnel, unhelpful first points of contact, rushed calls and feeling that they did not provide the same level of care as face-to-face appointments.

Based on their findings, Healthwatch Wandsworth recommend that while digital and telephone appointments can work well for straightforward appointments such as check-ins and repeat prescriptions, they work less well for more complex or sensitive issues or when physical cues or examinations are important.

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General details

Report title 
Experiences of digital and telephone appointments
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Wandsworth
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 17 March, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 1 June, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 31 January, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Communication between staff and patients
Continuity of care
Digitalisation of services
Quality of care
Waiting times and lists for treatment

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
NHS Wandsworth South West London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
Primary research method used 
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 
Community pharmacy
GP practice
NHS 111
Secondary care services 
Mental health services 
Community mental health team (CMHT)
Community services 
Community health care services - independent midwives
Urgent and emergency care services 
NHS 111

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
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.