A campaign has been launched across the North East and Cumbria to encourage more patients to access their local GP practice via their phone, tablet and computer.

Latest data shows that 23% of patients across the North East and Cumbria use GP online services to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and see their test results and GP record.

The campaign, led by the Great North Care Record, which promotes the sharing of medical information by authorised health and social care practitioners across the region, is aiming to increase those online figures – freeing up more time in GP practices by reducing routine phone calls and patient visits.

Nationally 14.6 million people are signed up to use GP online services, with over a million online GP appointments being booked and 2.6 million repeat prescriptions being ordered every month.

Some practices are already reaping the benefits of getting more of their patients to use GP online services.

The Duke Street Practice in Barrow-in-Furness has seen its online figures increase in less than two years from 3% of its patients using GP online services to nearly 39% after promoting online opportunities in its surgery, and offering it to all newly-registered patients.

Fiona McDonald, NHS England Digital Clinical Champion for the North of England, says that having access to online appointment bookings and being able to see your health record gives patients more control of their health care.

She said:  “By encouraging more people to use GP online services we’re aiming to empower and motivate them to share the responsibility of their healthcare – as well as giving them more convenient access.”

Using GP online services means, for example, that patients can order repeat prescriptions on their mobile phone even when the surgery is closed, and go and collect it from their chosen pharmacy the following day.

Fiona added: “Every other industry communicates at some level digitally with the public, and GNCR are keen to open a digital channel of communication with the public with this being the first step to achieving this.”

Dr Mark Westwood, General Practitioner at The Green surgery, North Tyneside, adds: “There are lots of benefits for patients and practices when people register for online services.

“In addition to being able to order prescriptions, it provides the starting point for the NHS to communicate electronically with patients.”