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06.11.17

GP app could put unnecessary pressure on doctors

The NHS’s new GP app has today come under criticism from the Royal College of GPs.

The new service gives access to GPs at practices in London via the GP at Hand app, run by health provider, Babylon.

Eligible patients can book video consultations with GPs, and if a prescription is required, the GP will send this on to a local pharmacy for collection following the consultation.

However, the RCGP has expressed concerns that, whilst this could mean shorter waiting times for appointments for younger, healthier patients, it could result in patients being ‘cherry-picked,’ which it says would increase the pressures faced by traditional GPs.

Professor Helen Stokes- Lampard, chair of the RCGP said: “We are also concerned that patients are being given the option of switching back to their local surgery if they are not satisfied with the level of service offered by the app.

“As well as issues with patient confidentiality and the safety of the patient record, it is hard to see how this could be achieved without adding to the huge burden of red tape that GPs are already grappling with.”

In addition, she warned that the scheme could worsen the current GP shortage: “While this scheme is backed by the NHS and offers a free service to patients, it is undoubtedly luring GPs away from frontline general practice at a time when we are facing a severe workforce crisis and hardworking GPs are struggling to cope with immense workloads.

“The real and long-term solution lies in greater investment in general practice.

“In England, this means the delivery of the NHS England GP Forward View, which would mean £2.4bn extra a year for general practice, 5,000 more GPs, and 5,000 more members of the practice team.”

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