IMPROVING access to online appointments for patients in Blackburn with Darwen are among the recommendations in a new report.

Patients want to see a wider range of appointments and choice in the online service for booking appointments and re-ordering prescriptions.

This includes having more pre-bookable short notice appointments, and the ability to book a GP of choice, the nurse or other practitioner at the practice.

The findings emerged in a 'GP Online Access' report by watchdog Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen.

One patient said: "I use the online service for reordering prescriptions, but I don’t use it for booking appointments because you can never get an appointment for the doctor you want to see.

"I would use the appointment booking if you could book the GP of your choice and there was a greater availability of appointments."

Another patient said: "I have never really considered using the online booking service because I find it easy to just ring the surgery.

"I can see the benefits of it, but I’ve never felt the need to use it."

Another patient added: "We live very near to the doctors so it’s convenient for me to just call in and book appointments and reorder prescriptions.

"If we ever moved further away from the surgery, I would use it."

Healthwatch recommended better provision and accessibility to digital services, data and reliable Wi-Fi.

They also recommended increasing confidence in using the online booking apps with more support in doctors' surgeries and wider community for those who would like to register and try it.

While Healthwatch said the booking apps and registration process needs to be unified and simplified across GP practice, and that wider choice of appointment times and availability was needed.

Healthwatch also said that reassurance is needed that face-to-face and telephone reception services will remain available for patients who prefer these options.

For more information on GP online services, visit