Creating a highly usable and accessible GP practice website

In 2021 – 2022 NHS Digital performed a study on GP practice website templates and from the results of this they developed a guide for Creating a highly usable accessible GP website for patients.

To assist practices further, a GP website benchmarking and improvement tool was developed which is an audit tool containing 50 items that would score your website as ‘Well’, ‘Adequate’ or ‘Inadequate’.  This tool focuses mainly on the content of your website, how easy it is to read and understand, where it is situated etc.

ICB’s across the country have started to provide the practices within their locality with funding to update their practice websites to meet the standards set out in this audit tool, if you haven’t started this project in your local area yet then it is likely you may hear from your ICB soon.

I have produced a 20-minute walkthrough video demonstrating how you can utilise the features in your SurgeryWeb dashboard to customise your website in order to significantly increase the number of green ‘Well’ items within the audit tool. I would recommend that you set aside some time along with any IT administrators or members of staff within your practice who may maintain your practice website and go through the video to see how you can adopt these changes to your own website.

Alternatively, SurgeryWeb have a new product currently in development which is built using the NHS design manual framework and will meet the ‘Well’ standard for all items within the audit tool. Once this has been completed, it will become the primary template offered to new customers but there will also be an option for existing customers to migrate to this new framework though there will be a small cost associated with this due to the time involved in migrating your existing content in to the new locations. If you would like to register your interest please just let me know via email and I will keep you updated.

Please note: The NHS guidance and benchmarking & improvement tool has been produced solely as guidance and it is not a requirement to do any of this, if you are happy with how your website currently performs then you do not need to make any changes, however there are many benefits to complying with the suggestions as your website is effectively your front door and if a patient can easily find what they are looking for then they wont need to contact your reception.

You can find the video here:

  • 0:00 Creating a highly usable and accessible GP practice website
  • 2:56 Overlays & Pop-ups
  • 5:09 Navigation
  • 9:12 Appointments Page
  • 12:05 Prescriptions Page
  • 13:07 Test Results Page
  • 13:34 Contact Page
  • 14:47 Register with this Practice Page
  • 15:59 Other Pages and Final Items
  • 18:21 New SurgeryWeb Development

If you have any questions or concerns at all about the audit tool or guidance, please feel free to get in touch.

November Update

As always, we like to communicate with our fellow Practices to let you know of any updates or announcements regarding any of our products or services, so please see our latest offerings below.

Website update

Following the communication that was sent on 23rd September ( regarding the latest website update, this deployment has been going very well and although we have a number of Practices still to update, we expect this to be complete within the next 2 weeks. We have also fixed any styling issues which have occured as a result of this update which will then be deployed instantly upon completion of this rollout.

Server upgrade

Upon completion of the website update project, we will begin migrating Practice websites to an upgraded server. When we say upgraded, the specification of the new server is 8 times more powerful than the current series of servers which would massively improve website load speed and the whole patient experience. This will be yet another lengthy project because although any website with a, .com, .org etc domain name (controlled by SurgeryWeb) can be migrated instantly, we are reliant on NHS Digital (and the Scottish equivalent) to assist with the domain names. We anticipate all websites to be running on the new hardware by the end of the year, and are very much looking forward to that happening.

Bag yourself £50 from Amazon before Xmas!

Have you left a review for SurgeryWeb on our PracticeIndex listing yet? If not, why not? We are giving away 3x £50 Amazon Gift Cards to randomly selected winners and all you have to do is head over to our listing on PracticeIndex and leave us a review (preferably 5 stars!) –

Anyone who has already left us a review this year (from 1st January 2022) will automatically be entered. And anyone who has left us a review before this date is eligible to leave another so you won’t be missing out. Reviews must be submitted before 5pm on Wednesday 30th November.

To give PracticeIndex a chance to publish any pending reviews, we will make our draw on Friday 9th December when 3 people will be picked by an independent person not associated with SurgeryWeb. Winners will be notified via email the same afternoon.


Finally, we thought it about time to have a presence on Twitter, so if you’re a “Tweeter” please give us a follow: @surgery_web, we would really appreciate it.

Annual Pricing

From 1st December 2022, the cost of our SurgeryWeb Practice website will be increasing by £19/year for existing Practices, this will make the total cost £269 per year.  We have never raised our prices since SurgeryWeb was first established in 2017 but during this time we’ve seen costs rise again and again, which until now we’ve been able to absorb.

However recent energy prices have increased the costs of hosting the servers we deliver your websites on by a very significant amount. Servers, firewalls, air conditioning and large data feeds are all power hungry so our data centre costs have risen.  Software licenses have also increased over the years, and we have recently introduced new features on the websites such as the new anti-spam measures provided by CleanTalk, all of these additions result in extra expense.

The increase of £19 a year is only 7.6%, much less than the RPI inflation figure for 2017 – September 2022 (almost 20%).

We know price increases are unpalatable, especially at the moment when we are all under financial pressures, however we hope you find our web site service first class and great value for money, and we hope you’ll continue supporting us as we continue to evolve.

We’re updating a few things…

There’s a few changes we’d like you to know about.

New contact number

Effective from Monday 5th September, we will have a new contact number for enquiries and support which is 0333 188 2448. This number is free to call and will operate from 9am until 5pm Monday to Friday. During busy periods you will have the option to leave a message and if you do so, we will get straight back to you at our earliest opportunity.

Preferred payment method

We’re hoping to change the way we collect payments, but don’t worry, it’s simple and will benefit both of us.  Direct Debit via GoCardless is our preferred method of payment and if you haven’t yet set this up for your Practice, you can do so very easily by just entering your details here:

You wont have to remember to make future payments and you’ll never be chased for late payments, as soon as your invoice due date is reached, we’ll collect payment directly from your pre-agreed bank account.  You’ll be notified before each payment is taken and your payments are protected.  GoCardless is an approved Direct Debit provider who work with over 50,000 business across the globe.

You will also receive invitations via email direct from GoCardless in the coming weeks to set up a Direct Debit if not done so by that time, however if you would prefer to still receive your annual invoice via email and pay manually, that is absolutely fine.

Friends and Family Test

As you know, it is a requirement for GP Practices in England to offer the Friends and Family test to patients. We were notified recently that the wording of the mandatory question had changed and was strictly set to “Overall, how was your experience of our service” with a choice of preceding text (e.g. Thinking about your recent visit,).  We have updated this question on all websites that had the original wording set (which was the majority of Practices) however there were a small few who had changed this wording themselves, so I would recommend any Practice who thinks that they may have amended the FFT form at all just to check the wording of the mandatory question and update using the form builder if necessary.

Further guidance on the FFT requirements can be found on the NHS England website.

Website Updates

We have a number of updates being developed and tested at the moment, not only changes within the dashboard to bring additional features to you but we are also upgrading security, anti-spam measures, accessibility features and more, which will be closely followed by some hefty development work to improve site performance. However, we thrive on feedback and if you have any ideas or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.

If you have any questions or concerns about anything above, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

SurgeryWeb’s Birthday

I know there’s not much to celebrate at the moment, but this week marks the 4th anniversary of the first SurgeryWeb Practice website going live and to mark this occasion we have decided to do two things…

Increased referral rate

For the month of November, the referral discount has been increased from 5% to 10%. For each Practice you refer to SurgeryWeb who goes live with a new website, you and your referred Practice will both receive 10% discount off your annual invoice (next in your case, first in theirs). That’s an accumulative 10% off for EACH.  The referred Practice does not need to go live during the month of November, they must just commit to signing up by submitting their Initial Setup Form quoting your Practice (ODS) code in the relevant field, however discount wont be applied until the new website does go live.

£50 Amazon gift card raffle

We are giving away 3 x £50 gift cards just in time for Christmas, all you need to do is leave us a review on the PracticeIndex website.

Already left a review? If you have left a review since 1st April 2020, you will be automatically entered for the draw which will take place on Saturday 5th December, you do not need to leave another. If you have left a review before this date, PracticeIndex are happy for you to leave another so you are not excluded. And if you haven’t yet left one, what are you waiting for?

The winners will be notified directly via email on or shortly after 5th December.

Direct link:

I would like to personally thank you all for your continued support.

COVID-19 – Coronavirus Pandemic

Practices are making good use of the pop-up message feature for displaying important information relating to the Coronavirus Pandemic and some Practices are also creating pages for posters, PDF’s and videos.

In some cases, SurgeryWeb is being asked to publish this information on their behalf. This is not a problem, we are more than happy to assist with the publication of your information, but please bear with us as the number of requests have increased four-fold over the last week or so and we are trying our best to keep up.

Practices have full access to their own website dashboards and are encouraged to try and update their site content themselves where possible. If assistant is required, feel free to contact us at any time but response times may be slightly slower than normal while this pandemic is rife.

Thank you all for your co-operation.


Google Analytics Dashboard Widget

Afternoon all

As you know, there is a widget in your dashboard where you can monitor your website’s statistics using Google Analytics, a great tool for showing you the number of unique visitors to your website, number of returning visitors, page views, everything you want to know.

Recently Google has introduced a restriction of 25 ‘token requests’ per Analytics account which basically means that only 25 websites can be authorised under one Analytics account, if 25 websites use the widget, once a 26th has been authorised the 1st then loses access, if a 27th is authorised then the 2nd loses access and so on.

We were only notified of the restriction this week hence we were not aware that some Practices may have a non-functioning widget but we have found a workaround which should allow us to authorise all Practice websites and we are working hard to get this in place.

However, this does mean that some Practices may find that their analytics have been reset back to 0 as their website has been linked to a new Analytics account.

There is no way from preventing this from happening and we apologise for any inconvenience, but once your website has been authorised to our new Analytics account your statistics should remain undisturbed from that point.


Apologies for any down time today

Apologies for any down time you may have experienced today, the server was having a new IP address assigned today but it appears the host may have messed something up in the process, they didn’t give me any more information other than there was a temporary issue with the node that the SurgeryWeb server is on, all is functioning OK now but I will be seeking a more detailed explanation from them.


Google Maps update

Dear all

Following the post on 4th September regarding the recent changes with Google Maps API and billing (see here: Recent change to Google Maps which affects your Practice website), we are still contemplating the best way to approach this going forward.

Some Practices may notice that their location map has disappeared from the home page of their website, this is only a temporary measure and will be re-introduced on 1st October. The map can still be found on the websites Contact page. This measure is required to minimise the number of map API calls over the next week. We then need to get an accurate number of map loads throughout the month of October so we can better monitor usage, distribute API keys across several billing accounts and minimise costs to SurgeryWeb, ensuring that the service we provide remains sustainable.

We apologise for any incovenience that this may cause, but just like in Primary Care, if costs rise then elements need to be assessed and measures put in place to minimise these additional costs.

Recent change to Google Maps which affects your Practice website

On 11th June 2018 Google enforced the use of API keys to load maps embedded on to websites, this is the interactive map at the bottom of your Practice website. Then on 16th July 2018, a new pay-as-you-go pricing plan went into effect for Maps, Routes, and Places. whereby SurgeryWeb is charged per API request.

Unfortunately we have just discovered that 1 API request is made for each map load, not each site load, which is a rookie mistake on our part, and as the Practice location map is situated on each page of the Practice website, this has accumulated a massive amount of requests. If one patient were to browse your website and look at 15 pages before logging off, this is 15 API requests.

In August alone, SurgeryWeb Practice websites made a total of 92,916 API requests and has therefore been faced with an unfortunate and unexpected bill.

To massively reduce the number of API requests on a monthly basis, we have now removed the map from all pages except for the Practice home page and the Contact Page (it is uncommon for maps to be displayed on all pages anyway) so that the number of requests per site visit should only be 2 (unless a patient visits the home page or contact page several times in one session).

We apologise for any inconvenience but hope you understand why we have had to make this change.

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