About askFirst

AskFirst is an app commissioned by NHS South East London ICS to help patients get the right healthcare they need at the right time. It has been developed by local GPs and the leading IT company, Sensely. Using the app can help patients take more control of their own health.

We are working hard to make sure that patients in Bexley get the right service when they need it. For patients that need to see a GP we want to make sure that they can get access through mobile phone or smart devices.

We have been commissioned to develop and deliver askFirst to support patients, registered with a Bexley GP to get easier access to primary care services.

The askFirst app is free to download and features an interactive symptom checker which triages the patient to the most appropriate onward care service (self-care, NHS 111, GP Appointment or Accident and Emergency) within the appropriate timescale, effectively helping patients to choose the right service available.


What are the benefits of using askFirst?

AskFirst offers many benefits which serve you, your practice and other patients.
AskFirst benefits you because:

  • Book Direct - You can book urgent and routine appointments online without the need to call the practice.
  • Save Time - You will avoid long wait times in telephone queues or waiting in queues at the practice.
  • Instant Care - You get instant referrals to onward care services and cut out any unnecessary consultations in between which means improved care.
  • 24/7 Care - Use Askfirst anytime, day or night. The app is available 24/7, 7 days a week.

askFirst benefits your practice and other patients because:

  • The phone lines will be freed up for the elderly, frail, patients with disabilities or those without internet access.
  • Appointment usage will be better monitored resulting in improved efficiency in your practice meaning better care for all.
  • Admin staff will have more time to work on administrative duties like communicating with you about yours and other patients' care.

How does the Symptom Checker work?

The app enables patients to interact with a virtual healthcare assistant called Olivia, she asks a series of questions (approximately 15) to assess your symptoms. Using NICE accredited evidence-based protocol, based on your responses, Olivia will recommend the most appropriate onward care which includes self-care advice, GP call back, advice from the NHS website and directions to urgent or emergency care.

For patients that need to see a GP, it is able to prioritise into more urgent appointment slots based on their needs and offer less urgent needs a later appointment. Patients are able to directly book an appointment without having to call the practice. In addition, a transcript of the questions and answers is sent to the patient’s practice, helping to make the consultation more efficient and effective.

What can I do via askFirst?

askFirst offers all the clinical and administrative services your practice does in exactly the same way. This includes;

  • Checking your symptoms and being referred to an urgent care service where necessary
  • Booking an appointment with a GP if deemed necessary by the Symptom Checker
  • Seek travel advice, self-care advice and find local services (dentist, pharmacy, opticians)
  • Amend/cancel appointments
  • Choose your own virtual healthcare assistant
  • Make general requests and administrative queries
  • Book flu appointments 

How To Videos

Explore more about the askFirst app with the 'How To' tutorial videos below. For more videos, visit the official askFirst YouTube page.

Please Note: On-screen menu options may differ due to version updates and available local services.

Setting up askFirst App

How to Book an Urgent Appointment

How to Book Routine Appointments

Where do I get the app from?

AskFirst is available on IOS, Android and all smart devices. It is free to download.

Download on the Apple App Store

Get on the Google Play store

Can I book an appointment with my GP?

Depending on your symptoms, if you need to see a GP the app will direct you to the appropriate appointments available at your practice.


Who can access askFirst?

If your practice is connected to askFirst you will be able to book GP appointments if appropriate. Anyone can download the symptom checker. Patients under the age of 18 years old or with mental health symptoms are advised to contact their GP.


When can I use askFirst?

The app is available to access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on your personal device.