Helping GP practices communicate more effectively with patients

Background and objectives

In November 2021, the fight against Covid-19 and the onslaught of winter pressures brought the issue of access to primary care services – and specifically face-to-face GP appointments – to the forefront of the national agenda.

In west Essex, surgeries experienced this at first-hand, with a rise in queries and negative feedback adding to the pressure under which practices were already operating.

Blue Lozenge began working with West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and its GP practices to deliver a strategy that could relieve these pressures and address a series of key priorities, namely:

  • Develop channels to signpost patients to the most appropriate advice and care
  • Help practices engage patients more effectively across a range of channels
  • Create messages that enable practices and the CCG to increase awareness and understanding of existing services.


Our work with Essex CCG was split into two main pillars:

  1. Targeted communications support for GP practices
  2. Regional communications to the public and stakeholders.

The first step was to carry out a communications ‘health check’ at five priority surgeries across the region.

Using the findings, the team developed a set of ten key recommendations designed to help primary care engage effectively with its population, boost awareness of the local services available, and change behaviours to reduce demand on practices.

These included:

  • Improving the content, structure and navigation of key practice webpages
  • Expanding the use of direct-to-patient text messaging
  • Increasing patient engagement by creating a patient participation group (PPG).
  • Using practice voicemail messages to signpost patients to other forms of support, manage expectations of wait times and answer common enquiries
  • Promoting content on common enquiries through all available channels using newly created toolkits.

Each practice’s health check report also included a set of proposals tailored to their needs and considering their communications capability and resources.

The results of this work were used to craft five specific actions – each designed to help practices in a specific way.

Communications toolkit

This resource was created to help patients better understand the way practices operate. The kit includes animated videos, graphics, print and digital materials, voicemail scripts and social media assets.

Practice website transformation

Working with our digital partner, we provided insight and solutions as to how GP practices could improve their web presence to strengthen their link with patients and make them as user-friendly as possible. This involved advice on content, security certificates, accessibility, and analytics capabilities.

Lunch and learn sessions

We designed a programme of six-hour-long sessions for GP practice teams – designed in collaboration with practices – these will be used to upskill practice managers in key areas of communications activity.

Pan ICS primary care access campaign

Our work helped to inform a pan-ICS primary care campaign, primarily designed to help the public understand why changes had been made to general practice and primary care services as a whole. It also enabled local services to combat the false perception that GPs don’t want to see patients face-to-face, reduce incidences of abuse of staff and boost workforce morale and retention.


This programme of discovery work and activation helped to inform the ongoing primary care communication and engagement strategy, providing valuable insights into what was needed to improve communication and engagement with the public and the workforce. The tailored health check report for GP practices gave them practical support and solutions to improve their communication.

“We really valued the hands-on support of the Blue Lozenge team. Their understanding of the health and care landscape is exceptional. They are positive and optimistic and their willingness to get out and about face-to-face and meet our clinical teams to genuinely understand their communication needs was incredibly helpful. We will be using their insight and recommendations to inform our future planning.”

Ian Tompkins, Director of Communication


If you need support with improving primary care communications or clinical engagement, get in touch with Blue Lozenge at

Project details


West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group

Project type

Communications audit, campaign delivery, content development, stakeholder management