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

Megan Elliott, Sian Jones, Chris Johnson, Carolyn Wallace

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1607
JournalPrimary Health Care
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2020


  • Triage
  • Rural
  • Nurse Triage
  • Wales
  • Nursing
  • Primary Care
  • emergency care
  • General Practice
  • innovation
  • nurse-led services
  • practice nurses


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