What are the benefits of nurse-led triage in primary care?
evidence and practice    

What are the benefits of nurse-led triage in primary care?

Megan Elliott Research Assistant, Faculty of Life Sciences and Education, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales
Sian Jones Business and Development Manager, Red Kite Health Solutions, Brecon, Wales
Chris Johnson Finance Manager, Red Kite Health Solutions, Brecon, Wales
Carolyn Wallace Associate Professor, University of South Wales, Pontypridd, Wales

Why you should read this article
  • To update your knowledge and ensure your practice is based on the latest available evidence

  • To familiarise yourself with the evidence regarding the use of nurse-led triage in primary care

  • To understand the main benefits of introducing nurse-led triage into primary care

Background In the UK, fewer medical professionals are training as GPs, while more GPs are working part-time and planning to retire early. This is increasing pressure on primary care services, and the GP and practice nurse workforce.

Aim To examine whether nurse-led triage assists with managing demand for GP appointments in primary care.

Method Data on patients’ clinical outcomes were used to evaluate two nurse-led triage services that were implemented in GP surgeries in the South Powys GP cluster in Wales to reduce demand on GPs’ time. One of the services was a two-year pilot of a standard nurse-led triage service, which managed all same-day appointment requests made by patients either in person or via the telephone. The other service was a six-month pilot of a Total Nurse Triage service, which managed appointment requests for both same-day and routine appointments made by telephone. A web-based clinical template was developed to capture data from individual practices on consultation rates, times and outcomes. A patient satisfaction survey was also distributed to patients who had used the Total Nurse Triage service.

Results In the standard nurse-led triage service, a total of 13,113 GP appointments were saved over the study period by, for example, providing advice to patients, providing a prescription or ‘sick note’ or providing an appointment with a nurse in the practice. In the Total Nurse Triage service, 2,270 GP appointments were saved over the study period by directing patients to other services, such as dental, physiotherapy or community pharmacy services.

Conclusion The study demonstrated the usefulness of nurse-led triage services, particularly the Total Nurse Triage service, and supports the implementation of a standard nurse-led triage or a Total Nurse Triage service in other GP clusters in Wales and the rest of the UK.

Primary Health Care. 30, 3, 28-34. doi: 10.7748/phc.2020.e1607

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

megan.elliott@southwales.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Elliott M, Jones S, Johnson C et al (2020) What are the benefits of nurse-led triage in primary care? Primary Health Care. doi: 10.7748/phc.2020.e1607

Acknowledgement

The authors would like to thank the staff and practice nurses at Haygarth Doctors, Crickhowell Group Practice, Brecon Medical Group Practice and Ystradgynlais Practice

Accepted 25 September 2019

Published online: 11 March 2020

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