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The survey, completed by Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Somerset NHS Citizens’ Panel in July, found that 83% of people who had used telephone, online, digital or virtual health support, felt their needs had been met during the covid-19 pandemic.

Since the lockdown, more patients are using their practice website to contact a medical professional using an Online Consultation platform. This secure two way messaging system enables you to get quick advice from a clinician and includes a symptom checker and self-care advice.

91% of GP practices in Somerset have or are implementing an online consultation service, and 100% offer video consultations for patients.

Justin Harrington, Somerset GP and associate clinical director for digital strategy at Somerset CCG said

“Digital services may not be for everyone, but are more convenient for people who are confident in online use. This then frees up the telephone for patients who need help or advice from their surgery.’

The great thing about online services is that you can start your consultation in your own time or request an appointment. The practice will usually respond to your request within 48 hours. With demand increasing, this is often more convenient and quicker than waiting on the phone.

If you haven’t already registered for online access, or you need support or guidance in how to use online services, please contact your practice direct.” 

NHS app and GP online services are available for repeat prescriptions, appointments or sick notes. You can see your record and immunisations and use a symptom checker.

Patients are being encouraged to ask their GP or pharmacist about electronic repeat dispensing, which means that patients can go straight to the pharmacist for regular repeat prescription medicines rather than first ringing their GP.

Your local pharmacist or GP can set this up for you and medicines can be collected monthly or two-monthly. Electronic dispensing especially benefits patients with long term medication needs. 93% of GPs in Somerset now offer this service to their patients.

The annual GP Patient Survey, completed before the pandemic, shows that 78% of patients said it was easy to use their GPs website to find information or access services.

The survey also found that over 80% of patients felt they had enough support from their local services/organisation to help them manage long term conditions in Somerset.

Other results saw that over half of patients rated the last healthcare professional they saw as ‘very good’ for listening to them, and treating them with care and concern. 65% of patients were satisfied with the GP appointment times available.

Healthcare services look different since the pandemic. Additional safety measures and social distancing are in place to protect patients and staff. This means that appointments may take longer than usual.

GP practices are open during normal opening times. Please contact your practice by phone or online before visiting in person. A doctor or member of the healthcare team will consider your medical need and symptoms and offer you the most appropriate appointment either by phone, video, or face -to-face.

For immediate medical advice or treatment – people should call NHS111 or go online at, or in an emergency call 999.