Active Signposting

As part of the General Practice Forward View, a new five year multi-million pound fund has been created to contribute towards the costs for practices of training reception and clerical staff to undertake enhanced roles in Active Signposting and Management of Clinical Correspondence.

Benefits for patients and the practice

In the past 2-3 years, a number of practices, most notably through the GP Access Fund have taken a more systematic approach to identifying the best ways of deploying reception and clerical staff, and have developed formal approaches to processes and training.

Benefits for practices: This innovation frees up GP time, releasing about 5 per cent of demand for GP consultations in most practices. It makes more appropriate use of each team member’s skills and increases job satisfaction for receptionists.

Benefits for patients: It is easier for patients to get an appointment with the GP when they need it, and shortens the wait to get the right help.

Active signposting by reception staff

This provides patients with a first point of contact which directs them to the most appropriate source of help. Web and app-based portals can provide self-help and self-management resources as well as signposting to the most appropriate professional. Receptionists acting as care navigators can ensure the patient is booked with the right person first time.

Reception staff are given training and access to a directory of information about services, in order to help them direct patients to the most appropriate source of help or advice. This may include services in the community as well as within the practice.

Our Active Signposting Training

Talking Life is already rolling out well received, cost-effective, Active Signposting training to Receptionists in many CCGs across the UK. In all cases, we have worked closely with the CCG to deliver a course for which the model is ‘bespoked’ to the individual CCG’s requirements and we are also able to deliver training concurrently in different locations if required. Typically, the course is half a day long and can take place in protected learning time. As well as a standard course for receptionists, we also offer ‘Champion’ training so that there are a number of Active Signposting ‘experts’ (Gold Level) in place across the CCG. We can also deliver Active Signposting ‘Train the Trainer’ courses for sustainability. The training may also be ‘managed’ (optional) by Talking Life, meaning we can book training locations on your behalf and oversee the registration of staff onto the courses.


Our half-day Active Signposting ‘standard’ course aims to help participants fully understand the skills and mindset necessary to actively signpost confidently and communicate with clarity. Also to understand and embrace the change to build new behaviours, be resilient and maintain a positive mindset throughout the whole process. The course will enable participants to build the skills and confidence to enable them to build empathy, to manage conversations and actively listen in order to understand the best signposting response first time for every patient.


Typical outcomes on our ‘standard’ Active Signposting course will enable participants, by the end of the course, to:

  • Influence other people positively and confidently
  • Understand the importance of body language and how to utilise it in
    a positive way
  • Examine phrases and words in common usage become positively
  • Use Listening and Confidence-raising techniques in the workplace to
    ensure appropriate signposting first time for every patient
    Have sensitivity to different cultures, beliefs and differences to
    ensure each patient is supported in an empathetic way
  • Understand the change process, how to embrace change and deliver the
    benefits positively to colleagues and patients
    Replace behaviours and approaches that reduce influencing
    effectiveness with ones that enhance it.
  • Manage a conversation by understanding the patient’s reasoning with
  • Remain calm and professional when faced with any form of conflict
  • Deal with patients who refuse signposting and demand to see a GP
  • Recognise Red Flag symptoms and appropriately deal with the patient
  • Understand the 9 key competencies of the role
  • Reflect, feedback and improve the signposting process for all

For more information about Talking Life’s Active Signposting training please complete the form and we will contact you as soon as possible.


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