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New online GP service offers £25 video consultations

A new private GP service offering 10-minute video consultations via a video link for £25 has been launched, amid concerns from GPs about how effective it will be.

The new service – called Push Doctor – has a network of over 7,000 GPs who are available from 6am to 10pm for appointments, and works through an app that patients can download.

But GPs warn that such services ignore how essential physical examinations are, while the GPC said that patients will be forced to access these types of services privately until funding issues are resolved.

Under the service, patients can pay an extra £15 if they want to book a longer, 20 minute appointment, while online prescriptions will cost £4.50 and referral letters and Fit for Work notes incur a £12 charge.

Push Doctor Limited said the service is regulated by the CQC and manned by ‘experienced family doctors’ who have been ‘hand-picked and put through a rigorous verification and checking programme’.

It says the scheme will give patients more flexibility and convenience to book appointments outside of working hours, and ‘boasts the longest opening hours of any other service of this kind’.

However, Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctors Association, warned the online service would not be adequate for many consultations because ‘it is an essential part of the consultation to be able to perform a physical examination’.

Dr Swinyard explained: ‘Within limits it will be ok but even for something routine like prescribing contraception, I’d like to see a current blood pressure.’

He added: ‘There may be circumstances in which people will find it convenient – it will be a supplement to general practice but it’s not a replacement for it.’

Dr Beth McCarron-Nash, GPC member and a GP in Truro, said it was a ‘shame’ practices were not given similar levels of funding to provide more access to working age patients for minor illness.

Dr McCarron-Nash said: ‘I think it’s a real shame general practice isn’t funded to the same level – if it was then convenience might be affordable.’

She added: ‘I appreciate traditional general practice perhaps doesn’t offer all the solutions that the young mobile person with limited health issues would like, but if we had more money it would be a completely different board game.

‘This kind of access is the “Martini” form of general practice – “Any time, any place, anywhere”. Unless we address the fundamental workforce, workload and funding issues that are killing general practice in England then I’m afraid this sort of service will only continue to be available privately.’

Readers' comments (33)

  • Wonder what the indemnity cost is. If ok looks like a winner - 150 an hour without leaving your study. This is the future.

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  • Idiot above. If YOU think YOUwill get £150/hr for sitting at home think again. They are quoting £45/hr for the work - which carries considerable medicolegal risk. Its a corporate that will make the money while you get covered when the proverbial hits the fan.

    I also hope that the GPC instruct that ALL PRESCIPTIONS GENERATED BY THIS SERVICE ARE NOT TO BE CONVERTED BY NHS GPs INTO NHS ONES.

    If the population want private medicine, let them feel the full force of the true costs without the NHS picking up the tab.

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  • Anonymous GP partner: could not agree more. £45/hr minus significant indemnity costs (a plea to my current provider: please don't indemnify anyone for this work, as my premiums are already bad enough) is work for the truly desperate and lacking in self-respect. No previous notes and no examination possible - what could go wrong?

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  • This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    This is the way the world ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.

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  • How people have made a mockery of medicine. Hippocrates and Michaelangelo we are sorry for the incompetence of service provision and ££.

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  • What happens after 9.5 minutes when the patient throws in the "while I'm (virtually) here, doc" and brings up something urgent? Is the plug still pulled?

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  • You dinosaurs should hand your heads in shame. New solutions always encounter moronic and thoughtless resistance. It may work or it may not. Give it a fu@king chance.

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  • I think it has it's place for some instances.

    On a more important note- if every GP practice were paid 25 pounds per 10 minute NHS appointment - there would suddenly be no problems with access to appointments.

    Especially if we got an extra 15 pounds for an over-run, 4.50 per prescription and 12 pounds per referral. But even without the extras it would be well funded.

    Surely we should start there.

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  • On their website it states - ''Push Doctor is proud to be an NHS commissioned technology provider''.

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  • Push Doctor – has a network of over 7,000 GPs?
    It looks like there are 10 on the website...

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