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Almost all patients reject registering with digital-first GP services, finds survey

The vast majority of patients do not want to register with a digital-first GP service, according to a survey by independent consumer body Which?.

The survey, of over 1,500 people, found 96% were unlikely to switch from their current GP to an online service in the next year.

Over half (52%) said they will definitely not change from their current GP, it reported.

The NHS long-term plan pledged to offer every patient in England the right to choose ‘digital-first’ primary care over the next five years.

But, almost a quarter of respondents to the survey (23%) felt GP consultations should only be done face-to-face, while 70% said online GPs should only be used in specific situations, such as simple consultations or out-of-hours care.

The survey also asked how concerned people were about different aspects of online GP services.

It found respondents were most concerned about triage being done by an artificial intelligence chat-bot before being able to consult a human GP (72%), and about not knowing who the GP was (71%).

These concerns were closely followed by the privacy of patient information (69%), what would happen if a referral to a physical doctor or specialist was needed (66%), and technology glitches (66%).

Under the long-term plan, digital GP services will usually be offered through existing practices, but patients will also have the option of using digital-first providers, such as the controversial Babylon GP at Hand.

The push towards digital providers follows claims by health secretary Matt Hancock that such services improve patient access to services by ‘taking pressure off the NHS’.

Mr Hancock was recently criticised for praising Babylon in a newspaper article carrying their branding - and GP leaders warned they cannot have confidence in him if he continues to support the provider.

Readers' comments (3)

  • AlanAlmond

    so here we are, vast amounts of public money directed on the whim of naive politicians towards vanity projects nobody wants, just basically so they can make their mark in the few years they are 'in charge'. such a clever idea Mr Hancock, maybe you should have asked round a bit wether anyone actually wants this, not just the bubble of well healed smart phone obsessed city buddies you hang out with

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  • Vinci Ho

    Strong slap on the face of the Health Secretary who is short-sighted with shallow concept , trying to quick-fix deep-seated problems without addressing the core issue of new resources. Also a strong smell of conflict of interest as far as a Secretary of State is concerned. As I wrote , some legal advice might need to be sought ?

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  • After answering a lot of questions, wasting hours and waiting for the reply, AI will say see your GP which is what the patient wanted in the first place.

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