The NHS is looking to assist practices, and their supporting CCGs, move away from the inflexibility of the many legacy systems currently in use by a significant proportion of practices by announcing a GP Advanced Telephony Specification Support Pack. The traditional box in the corner of the office cannot adapt to the changing needs of staff/patient communications and is unable to scale easily as patient numbers grow, or when practices merge to form GP Hubs and Federations, or across PCNs.

The arrival of the COVID pandemic in 2020 highlighted the need for substantial flexibility in primary care communications with GPs and staff needing to work from home during lockdown periods.

It is hoped CCGs will encourage practices to benefit from GP advanced telephony systems to improve practice efficiency and resilience and provide a better experience for patients, while also supporting practices with their technical issues such as IT infrastructure, networking and HSCN connections.

In addition to standard business telephony capabilities, the capability requirements of the GP Advanced Telephony specification include:

CapabilitySurgery Connect
GeneralAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
Compliance with all GMS Contract, NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit, ISO 27001 and Ofcom regulations
Secure access via IP from GP Practices or internet connected devices
Wholly owned and operated by the provider without 3rd party components or databases
Integration with the main Clinical Systems
ImplementationAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
Existing phone number porting
Minimal installation business continuity impact
Partner with CCG contracted IT service providers to deliver IT support, network and infrastructure management
Use dedicated data connection or HSCN connections for primary connection
Telephony separated from IT network via dedicated IP address ranges for infrastructure
24/7 support during and after installation
Upgraded on-site cabling for fixed handsets
At least 99.9% service availability
High quality audio
Clinical System IntegrationAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
TPP SystmOne
Integration independent of practice based infrastructure
Patient communication history attached to the patient record
Standard GP telephonyAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
Hunt Groups
Fixed IP handsets
External direct dial numbers
Practice directory
Call recording
User control interfaces
Configurable and timer controlled call flows
In call functions such as hold, transfer, mute etc
Prompts, holding messages, menu options and music
Call forwarding and call waiting
Handset conferencing
Practice caller ID
Advanced GP TelephonyAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
Demand Capability:
Rules based re-routing, queue management etc
Configurable IVR for incoming call handling
Queue position announcement
Unlimited call capacity and queuing
Independent outgoing call capacity
SMS outgoing integration with Clinical Systems
Call-back option
SMS call-back
Comprehensive call reports which meet national access reporting requirements
Easily switch between handset, mobile and softphone
Linking and logging incoming calls to the Clinical System patient records
Support patient self-serve including appointment booking, repeat prescriptions
Support practice QoF data capture
Integration with NHS Mail, N365 and Microsoft Teams
Business Continuity
Incoming call management and redirection within a practice and between multi-site practices
Remote access to the system
Fixed IP phone and softphone support
Desktop App support
Mobile App support
Models of Primary Care
Multi-site full functionality, e.g. PCNs
Telephony shared with other local organisations
Integrate with other IP telephony systems
Remote integration and logging of outgoing calls to patients with Clinical Systems
Single click switch from phone to video consultation using handset or softphone
Image request during patient call and attached to their record
InfrastructureAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
Automatic fail over systems
HSCN access approved with legacy N3 circuits not used
Accessible via dedicated data network connection
No impact on Clinical System performance
Full remote working facility using HSCN or broadband via landline, mobile or softphone providing business continuity
POE enabled fixed IP handsets
Operate within a VDI environment
Data SecurityAvailableOn RoadmapConsidering
Secure integration with practice infrastructure
Secure storage of patient identifiable data in a UK based data centre
Recorded calls stored at legally compliant standard for a minimum of 3 years
Meet GDPR, NHS Data and Security Protection Toolkit and GMS Contract security requirements
Secure access to patient data for each practice within a multi-site practice, e.g. PCNs
Legally compliant Clinical System integration
ISO 27001 for Information Security Management compliant
Efficient security issue processes and Business Continuity plan
Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation
Dedicated HSCN connection
Per extension licensing across multiple practices
Connectivity costs included
All component costs included
Call cost savings
Fair use policy
Charge individual practices and organisations using the same system separately
Free calls within practices and multi-site practices, e.g. PCNs
System updates are free