sign post
11th Jun


Active Signposting Launched in 2014. The initiative – care navigation – is designed to connect patients more directly with the most appropriate source of help or advice.

It aims to change the assumption that GPs are the first point of care for patients.  However, many  GPs were finding they were often seeing patients with minor ailments, whose concerns were more relevant to another primary care service or third sector provider. This meant not only that GP hours were being used inefficiently but that patients were waiting longer to get the care that was right for them.

The conclusion reached at NHS England that there were other professionals who could effectively take on some of the work that GPs do. Care navigation was developed from an awareness that the skills and abilities of frontline staff could be further developed to support patients and GPs.

Taking inspiration from a care navigation scheme in the US, the idea was formed that receptionists and other frontline staff could be provided with specialist knowledge about the alternative healthcare professionals and services in their area. With this, frontline staff would be equipped to highlight patients safely and effectively to the most appropriate service for their need, when requesting a GP appointment. As a result, GP’s time could be released to do more of what only a GP can do, such as spending more time with people with longer term, more complex needs.

Additionally, patients are offered a wider selection of relevant services and experience shorter waiting times.  Care navigation is fundamentally about empowering patient choice, not about triaging clinical decisions.