Telephone Triage Explained

Triage in this case is a process by which patient access is managed in a GP surgery when all the routine appointments have been taken. Telephone Triage is a method by which a health professional contacts a patient and manages their care based on the outcome of that telephone call.


  • Is it to stop me getting an appointment?
    No not at all –It is to ensure that all the patients that need to be seen on that day are seen by an appropriate health care professional It is also a tool for which a telephone consultation can be used to appropriately manage patient’s concerns even if an appointment is not required.
  • How does it work?
    Any patient who needs to be seen urgently on a day when all the routine appointments have gone are not turned away. Their name and contact details are put on a triage list. A GP, Paramedic or a Triage Nurse then contacts the patient and either brings them in to an emergency clinic set up precisely for that purpose or else the problem is dealt with appropriately in another way. (e.g. blood test arranged, referral completed, appointment with Practice Nurse arranged or prescription query discussed) This system has been used successfully for several years now in many GP surgeries.
  • Practices and audit has shown that this process significantly improves access.

Why is the Practice doing it?

  • To improve access.
    There were 92 hours of wasted appointments in April, May & June 2018 where patients did not turn up for their appointments.
  • To optimise GP appointments.
    With an ever developing workforce less complicated needs can be dealt with by other members of the health care team.
  • Reduce waiting times.
    Feedback from patients in the past has highlighted that for certain things they do not want to have to attend surgery and feel that a telephone consultation will be far more appropriate (medication queries/requests for blood tests/results etc.)

We regularly audit this process to ensure that it is achieving the goals and expectations that we set. This process is only one of the processes put in place to help us improve access and reduce risk. We will continue to work with patient groups to identify and improve areas of concern. This Practice is committed to listening to feedback and working with patients to improve and develop our service.