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7,000 patients join Babylon’s ‘GP at Hand’ service since launch

Exclusive Thousands of patients have joined the practice linked to Babylon Health's ‘GP at Hand’ service in the past month, according to official statistics.

The NHS Digital statistics on patients registered at a GP practice revealed that Dr Jefferies and Partners’ Lillie Road Surgery has increased from 4,970 patients in November to 11,867 in December – an increase of 6,897 patients in one month. Babylon has said this is due to the launch of the online service.

Patients who join the online GP at Hand service leave behind their former GP practice and join the patient list of Dr Jefferies and Partners' Lillie Road Surgery, which is able to take them on under the ‘GP Choice’ out-of-area registration scheme.

GP at Hand promises patients they will be able to 'book an appointment within seconds' via its smartphone app and have 'a video consultation with an NHS GP typically in under two hours of booking, anytime, anywhere'.

Patients can also have 'an in-person appointment if needed at convenient city centre locations on the same or next day' as well as having precriptions delivered to 'a pharmacy of their choice'.

The service has been accused of ‘cherry-picking’ healthy and young patients when it started offering its online GP service on the NHS as a replacement for regular GP practices across London.

The RCGP has warned that the service, which NHS England has said may not be suitable to patients with a number of health conditions, is 'creating a twin-track approach to NHS general practice'.

A spokesperson for Babylon confirmed the patient list increase is due to the GP at Hand service, saying: 'We've had people from across the ages sign up, from children, to people over 80, to people with complex health needs, as well as people in good health.'

He added that patients are 'loving the service', with the GP at Hand app receiving a 95% approval rating from users.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee, said the patient list size increase is 'not surprising', considering 'the significant advertising that this service has done'.

But he added that the GPC was 'continuing to discuss our concerns about the service with NHS England and the impact it could potentially have on other practices'.

This comes after LMC leaders voted in favour of a motion calling on the GPC to ‘seek urgent legal advice’ on a ‘potential judicial review’ regarding the GP at Hand service. 

Readers' comments (15)

  • 95% approval rating. Hurray, Were saved?????

    Where will Babylon be this time next year? More too the point, where will these 7,000 patients access medical care then? Will their original GP still functionally exist and be willing to take them back?

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  • Machiavellian vultures feasting on the carrion of General Practice...

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  • That's a third of what I thought.

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  • Its not the blood sucking opportunists that I have a problem with.....

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  • National Hopeless Service

    I will eat a speculum (plastic one) if it lasts more than 6 months before the ratings drop and it becomes overwhelmed and the relative funding drops.

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  • AlanAlmond

    A foot note in the obituary of publicly funded primary care. So telling that this should come from a surgery in Fulham. A stones throw from the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Kings Road and the desperately deprived streets of Chiswick and Slone Square West London. How ironic that the NHS should be leached thus by a practice in the midst of some of the most well healed and previllaged people in the entire country. Well done Dr Jefferies and co...fill your boots before the ship finally goes under.

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  • At this rate it will be £8.4 million taken from GP practices in London. Those practices will have called the any less workload and will not have the money to pay their staff. I wonder if this is a deliberate plan by the Department of Health to further the stable General practice. Eventually all GP partners will hand back the contracts and the government may well have one if they GPs come back as salary.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Are we allowed to know the demographic breakdown of these 6897 patients?

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  • Very much expected - as a young patient this service provides a want rather than a need. Though it is hard to argue against instant access

    Maybe the practices that have lost patients - reduce the number of clinics provided - and those who need the care justbhave to wait longer like they do in hospital

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  • GP at Hand but will they treat feet as well?

    This is disruptive technology and implementation at work.
    Disruptive has its positives and its negatives.
    The negatives have been discussed at length...
    Are there positives? Time will tell.
    There are so many dependencies and players here with economics, quality, choice meaning choice, sutainability and feasibility, sector destabilisation and so on at work it is so hard to predict - bit like BREXIT really!!

    The world is changing in so many arenas and the end points are just not as clear as they used to be....

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