Care Navigation

Care Navigation Information for Patients

Why is the receptionist at my GP surgery asking me questions?

Receptionists will often ask you some basic questions about your current health problem or enquiry. This is so that they can make sure you see the right person at the right time. It is also so that appointments with the practice doctors or other staff are used in the best way to meet the needs of all patients that need to be seen at the practice.

All GP receptionists are trained to respect confidentiality, in the same way that the clinical staff are. They have also had Care Navigation Training so that they can help you to identify where you can get the most appropriate support and advice.

What is Care Navigation Training?

Patients often tell us that they find the range of NHS services available, and how to access them, confusing and difficult to understand. Care Navigation is a new way to help patients find the right service for their needs and our receptionists have been trained in what’s available.

How will the receptionist know about all the services available locally?

Receptionists have access to a new local ‘Directory of Healthcare Services’ prepared by local NHS staff. If the receptionist thinks another service will be better, or quicker, for you to access, they will be able to help you find it.

Why has Care Navigation been introduced?

Doctors in GP practices are getting busier. Many people contact their GP practice first if they have a health enquiry but a GP appointment is not always the best option. There are other, and sometimes more appropriate, ways to get help with your illness or injury, or to answer your query.

Receptionists understand what their practice staff do and they know what other services are available. For example, a nurse or pharmacist might be able to treat you, often sooner than waiting for a doctor’s appointment. There may also be local voluntary, social, or self-help groups that the GP receptionist can put you in touch with.

What if I do not want to answer all the receptionist’s questions?

Not all patients will feel comfortable telling the receptionist about their health. You do not have to give full details but even if you can give the receptionist a basic idea of what the issue is they will be able to get you the appropriate help quicker.

If you are phoning the receptionist it is a good idea to phone from a place, and at a time, where you can describe your health issue briefly and without embarrassment. If you are in a public place let the receptionist know. They will understand if there are questions you would prefer not to answer.

If you are in a busy GP reception area you can ask the receptionist if you can move to a private area. You could also write down the problem so that you don’t have to speak it out loud.

How will this help me as a patient and the NHS?

If it’s more appropriate for someone other than a GP, for example a Practice Nurse, to treat you then you might get an appointment with them sooner. Another health professional may also be better equipped because they see people with the same kind of health problem every day. If you have a long-term condition specialist treatment in another NHS setting may stop it from getting worse.

We all want to keep you well. We want you to avoid unnecessary trips to a GP practice or hospital, especially if your condition can be managed closer to home.

How can I find out information by phone?

The NHS 111 service is open 24 hours a day, every day. You might find this easier and more convenient than phoning your GP practice.

Dial 111 - calls are free from landlines and mobile phones

NHS 111 connects you to a team of trained call advisers. They will ask questions to find out about your health issue and where you are. They are supported by very experienced nurses, paramedics, and GPs. They can give healthcare advice over the phone and direct you to a local NHS service. If necessary they can call an ambulance or paramedic, or advise you to travel direct to the Emergency Department at your local hospital.

How can I find out information online?

You can also look up local services online, anytime, on the NHS Choices website On the homepage you can search for services near to your postcode. It also has links to information about health, care, and how to live well. For non-emergencies, it can be a very useful first place to look - it might even answer all your questions.

What if I need to contact adult social care services?

Adult social care services are provided by Cambridgeshire County Council or Peterborough City Council, depending on where you live. They can be contacted on the details below:

Cambridgeshire County Council Adult Social Care:

Tel: 0345 045 5202 (08.00 to 18.00 Monday to Friday, 09.00 to 13.00 on Saturday.) Web:

Peterborough City Council Adult Social Care:

Tel: 01733 747474 Email: Web:   

Is there anyone else I can contact?

Healthwatch Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is the independent champion for people who use health and social care services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. They also offer a free, confidential information service to help you find your way around local health and care services. You can contact them on 0330 255 1285 or email:

If you have questions about Care Navigation and your GP practice, do ask the reception staff. If you have general questions about Care Navigation, do contact the Patient Experience Team, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, tel:0800 2792 535, email: