Text reads The ugly truth about content writing for GP websites

It’s 3pm. As a practice manager, PCN or digital transformation lead, you’ve sat in at least 5 meetings that could have been emails, drafted all your reports and covered somebody else’s work who’s sat on a sun lounger somewhere far hotter than ol’ Blighty. Glug that tea; you deserve it! Just that new content you said you’d write for your GP websites to do…

Oh yeah *quickly looks at the diary to see where to kick that can* 

The trouble with content creation for GP websites

Creating an efficient content creation process has always been a bigger task than people think. Between managing patient care and other duties, most practice and PCN staff often don’t have the time or the skill set to create quality written content. And nor should they be expected to.

The process of writing in plain English suitable for a 9 to 11-year-old reading age, structuring articles and pages for ‘mobile first’, writing link text, editing and testing for a low reading level, complying with accessibility requirements, and staying true to the NHS content style guide can be overwhelming if you’re not doing it every day, to say the least. 

And don’t forget, most public sector organisations have a comms team or at least more than one person dedicated to staying on top of writing and creating all that digital content.

The obstacles to writing good digital NHS content

There are several ways to lighten the load, thank goodness, but these come with obstacles too:

Sharing the same content across PCN, ICS or a GP federation

Creating content once to use across many may seem ideal, but it often doesn’t work out that way in practice. One or two GP surgeries always want things done “their way” or need further customisation to suit their business – and that’s totally valid.

Then there’s your patient-facing PCN content. Things like your evening and weekend appointments. Details should sit on the appointment pages of your individual practices rather than tucked away on a separate PCN website. Even NHS England says so.

And it’s not just your patients looking at your websites. The CQC and your ICB expect your website to meet certain standards in the fight to boost patient experience and improve access. What happens if you’ve gone through the GP Website Benchmarking and Improvement Tool only to find everyone’s websites are at completely different stages right now and no one’s agreeing on a uniform approach?

Using templates or AI to write your GP website content

Using and adapting NHS England-tested copy templates for your most visited pages can reduce the burden (and you totally should be using them). Your website supplier can probably write or source the odd page of content here and there for you. But who has the skills and capacity to maintain, check, write, review, reduce and rationalise the rest of your content throughout the rest of the year?

“We’ll try AI,” you ponder. An AI tool might be able to simplify that 1,000-word complaints policy or write you a page intro. But just like your practices don’t allow AI to triage all your appointment requests, AI is still far off delivering the nuanced and personalised page-by-page attention each specific practice website needs. It doesn’t know or use words and phrases a patient in the UK with a low reading level would understand in your neck of the woods either.

The solution to creating good content and communicating well across your GP websites

What if we told you there was a much more efficient and cost-effective way to write and communicate well through your GP websites?

Primary Care Comms Clinic has been replacing tired, outdated content on GP web pages with accessible, easy-to-read-and-navigate content since 2016 and for years before that in our jobs working for NHS comms teams.

Our Content Clinic offers a simple monthly content subscription service built for primary care providers starting from just £250 + VAT per month that you can share across your PCN, GP federation or ICB.

Tell us what content and help you need from us regularly. Get the expertise of a trained team familiar with the ins and outs of the NHS and primary care communication as well as digital content design. Our skilled comms team can plan, review, refresh, and create tailored and adapted content across your organisation. Everything from web pages and newsletters to infographics and animations, traditional and digital comms is our bread and butter.

Generating and keeping your web content up to date shouldn’t have to be a burden on your staff. It’s an integral part of your service offering, just like your HR, facilities management, or phone system, and it makes sense to delegate it as such. As it’s for patient experience and improving access, you’ll have funding pots you can use for it too.

We’re already in cahoots with the leading GP website suppliers if you need to completely revamp everything or write web content for the first time. And we understand the importance of a ‘mobile first’ approach, designing engaging yet straightforward content that’s most effective for the majority of patients who access websites via their mobile devices.

The benefits are simple:

  • It frees up time for your staff to get on with their best work.
  • It ensures top-quality content that’s optimised for usability and accessibility.
  • And ultimately provides a better experience for your patients.

Talk to our team today about improving the content on your GP websites…or you could just try doing it yourself when you can find a minute.

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