What is Patient Online?


Patient Online gives patients the option to make appointments, order repeat prescriptions (‘transactional services’) and view their electronic medical record online, using their computer, tablet or smartphone rather than having to phone or visit their practice. Online services complement and not replace the existing ways patients access appointments, prescriptions and their records.

Programme context

The Department of Health (DH) Information Strategy The power of information stated that by 2015:

  • all general practices will be expected to make available electronic booking and cancelling of appointments, requesting of repeat prescriptions, viewing of test results, communication with the practice and access to records
  • all NHS patients will have secure online access, if they want it, to their personal GP records.

Many GP practices already offer online access to records and transactional services for their patients, and the General Medical Service (GMS) Contract 2014/15 required all general practices in England to offer Patient Online by the end of March 2015 (click here for Personal Medical Services (PMS) Agreements). Since then the contractual requirement has increased to include elements of the record. More information about these changes is available in the Overview and Benefits eLearning, and the BMA Key changes to the GP contract webpage.

The Patient Online Practice Toolkit

Developed by the RCGP and NHS England from 2014 onwards, the Toolkit contains the latest resources and practical guidance for GPs and other healthcare professionals on patient online access. 

Patient Online: The Road Map

‘Patient Online: The Road Map’ was launched in March 2013 by the RCGP.  This summarises expert opinion and feedback explaining what online access involves, and provides key messages for a number of key stakeholder groups, and outlined future steps to support practices with Patient Online.

  • Patient Online: The Road Map Full version PDF (1.9 Mb)
  • Patient Online: The Road Map Summary for general practice PDF

As part of The Road Map, RCGP commissioned a systematic review, published in September 2014 and March 2015:


  Useful extracts from Patient Online: The Road Map:

  •   Patient Online: The Road Map Executive summary and preface PDFPatient Online Roadmap cover
  •   Patient Online: The Road Map Appendix 2 Patient Online Access Defining the Offer PDF
  •   Patient Online: The Road Map Appendix 3 Information Governance Risk Register PDF
  •   Patient Online: The Road Map Appendix 5 Key messages from the roadmap PDF


Patient Online: The Road Map has been produced based on supporting products from working groups as referenced within ‘Patient Online: The Road Map’. The following product set was used for the production of the Information Governance risk register. 

  • Patient Online: The Road Map Supporting products from Working Group 3 PDF

Endorsements have been sought from stakeholders and supporting organisations for agreement on the principles within the document and support for patients, GPs and practice staff.

  • Patient Online: The Road Map: Endorsements PDF and stakeholder acknowledgements PDF

Last modified: Monday, 7 March 2016, 5:09 PM