We are optimising the use of online and video consultation and prescribing tools to care for primary care patients.

The need for effective digital pathways in primary care has been brought sharply into focus by the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital technology was implemented at speed and scale across general practice to reduce physical contact while maintaining interactions between patients and clinicians.

During the initial outbreak, we helped general practices across Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to integrate online and video consultation technologies into their operational systems. By the end of April 2020, every general practice in the South West was using video to consult with patients, compared to 5% before the pandemic. The number of practices using online consultation also increased from 60% to 80%.

As the health system adjusts to operating in a changing and ongoing context of COVID-19, our role is to support practices to optimise their use of digital care pathways whilst also supporting equity of access across our South West population. This involves assessing how digital resources and systems are being used, in order to identify approaches that we can spread across our practice community.


During the first wave of the pandemic, we worked collaboratively with West of England AHSN to deliver a series of learning webinars targeted at primary care prescribers with Electronic Prescription Systems (EPS), to enhance uptake of Electronic Repeat Dispensing (eRD). These sessions featured examples of local best practice in eRD and sharing of resources to support those working in general practice, to benefit patients at a time of social distancing.

We continue to work with West of England ASNH and Wessex AHSN to support our region's primary care workforce to optimise and scale eRD, enabling more patients to use online services to arrange repeat prescriptions for stable medicines rather than having to visit their GP.

We are currently working with Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and practices that are already utilising eRD but keen to extend their current service whilst driving efficiency gains for the primary care workforce.

Over 100 representatives from primary care and 50 representatives from community pharmacy throughout the South West and West of England logged on to the live webinars:

Watch our webinar from 25 June 2020 on the benefits of eRD based on experience from GP and CCG colleagues: