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World-first GP app to ‘mark the death knell of 8am scramble for appointments’

A new mobile application aimed at improving access to GP records, appointments and prescriptions will “revolutionise the way we access health services,” health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has said

The app, developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, will be available through the Apple app store or Google Play store from December this year. Once downloaded, users can simply sign up for an NHS account.

Patients will be able to secure a GP appointment “with the click of a button,” the Department of Health and Social Care promised, as opposed to the strenuous process of joining a queue of callers trying to book a slot at their local surgery at the same time each morning.

A 111 hotline for urgent medical queries will also be introduced in the app, alongside information regarding the user’s management of long-term conditions or diseases which can be updated digitally.

Hunt said: “The NHS app is a world-first which will put patients firmly in the driving seat and revolutionise the way we access health services.

“I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients.”

Health preferences including patient data-sharing, organ donation, and end-of-life care will also be offered to users to make the process more accessible and give patients more control over the power of care from NHS staff.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Apps are increasingly a vital part of our everyday lives and as technology adapts in the 21st century, the healthcare service must remain up to date with the technologies that the public – and thus our patients – are using.

“GPs and our team are working flat out to meet patient demand and it is vital that all GP surgeries are provided with the additional support and the resources they need to ensure it is introduced as seamlessly as possible without disruptions to patients or practices.”

Stokes-Lampard added that safeguards must be in place to protect patients’ personal data, the security and — due to a patient’s medical history being logged on the app — reliability of identity verification processes being used are one of the highest international security standards.

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