Remote consultations handbook

Remote consultations are suddenly a part of everyday practice. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it necessary to limit physical contact between clinicians and patients. In April 2019 80% [1] of GP consultations in the UK were face to face. Only one year later, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in April 2020, only 30% [2] were face to face.

Today’s medical students and doctors receive many hours of training over and over again, for years in how to undertake a face to face consultation. The sudden introduction in remote consultations has left the majority of clinicians unprepared for this new way of seeing patients.

This handbook provides strategies to ensure a safe and effective consultation via video or telephone.

Download Remote consultations handbook (2nd edition, September 2020)

All consultations, face to face or remote, need to maintain safety, confidentiality and the patient-doctor relationship. This guide aims to provide clinicians with some guidance on how to modify their usual history taking and examination techniques to enable a productive and safe remote consultation via webcam or telephone.

Whilst the majority of primary care consultations can be undertaken safely remotely, where there is an unacceptable level of uncertainty or risk, a referral to a different setting is required.

This document is reviewed monthly, with a new edition every 6 months. As it evolves it will aim to reflect the latest understanding of the research and include the latest guidance.


  1. NHS Digital (2019) Appointments in General Practice report- NHS Digital. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 June 2020].
  2. (n.d.) Around 7 in 10 patients now receive GP care remotely in bid to keep patients safe during pandemic,says RCGP. [online] Available at: