CCG rolling out innovative GP practice texting service

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Bolton people will soon be able to communicate quickly and easily with their GP practice by text, thanks to a new initiative now being rolled out by NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Patients registered at Bolton GP practices will soon be receiving texts with appointment reminders and health information.  Unwanted appointments can be cancelled simply by replying to the text. 

An estimated 60,000 GP appointments, equating to around ten per week for each practice, are wasted each year in Bolton when patients do not attend.  This new service is expected to reduce waste and improve the availability of appointments by reminding people to attend, cancel, or change their GP appointment.

Dr Wirin Bhatiani, Chair of NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“Bolton people tell us they sometimes struggle to contact their GP practice, whether that’s getting through on the phone or finding the time to visit in person.  This new text service will make this much easier for everyone.  After all, we know this is how our patients communicate with each other – so why not their GP practice too?”

“This latest development follows advances in the online services offered by our practices, which allow many patients to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online.”

“These technological changes offer more flexibility in how, when, and where people choose to contact their GP practice.” 

A partnership between the CCG and leading British digital health innovation company iPLATO Healthcare, is working with Bolton GP practices to roll out this new system.  Patients are encouraged to check that their GP practice has their mobile phone number so they can benefit from this new service.  If the GP practice already holds this information, the patient will receive a text to let them know that the new system is up and running.

The privacy of patients and protection of confidential data has been a key consideration throughout the development of this programme.  Patients can opt out at any time by notifying their GP, or any other member of staff at their GP practice.

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