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GP appointments via app for every patient by 2018

Every patient will be able to book a GP appointment, check their patient record, and receive support for managing their long conditions via an app by the end of next year, the health secretary is set to announce. 

Speaking at the NHS Expo conference in Manchester on Tuesday,Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce seven digital milestones to be achieved in 2018 - in time for the NHS’s 70th birthday.

These developments depend on the new and rebranded NHS Choices site, NHS UK, which is due to launch this month and will provide secure access to NHS features online or via connected apps.

As well as functions to interact with their GP it will also allow patients to register their organ donation preferences and set out who they want their data to be shared with for purposes other than their direct care.

The list of seven features that should be supported in patient apps are:

  • Access NHS 111;
  • Access their healthcare record;
  • Book a GP appointment;
  • Order repeat prescriptions;
  • Express their organ donation references;
  • Express their data sharing preferences; and
  • Access support for managing a long term condition

The health secretary is expected to say if the NHS can achieve these improvements to digital care it will become a ‘world beater’.

He will add: ‘People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7, show their full medical history to anyone they choose and book basic services like GP appointments or repeat prescriptions online.

‘I do not underestimate the challenge of getting there - but if we do it will be the best possible 70th birthday present from the NHS to its patients.’

But responding to this announcement, the BMA’s GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said technology wouldn’t address the problems caused by a lack of trained GPs.

He said: ‘New technologies that are created with the intention of improving access won’t solve the fundamental problem that there are simply not enough GP and nurse appointments available for patients, as there are not enough GPs and nurses available to offer them or meet the growing needs of our patients.'

Dr Vautrey added that GPs led the way on electronic records and are always looking for ways to innovate and support patients, but patients needed to be well supported on how to use these new systems safely.

Apps with some of these features are being piloted in parts of London already, and the DH has plans for more though it said it wasn’t able to share any more details at this stage.

These initiatives are funded from the £4.2bn tranche of the NHS budget which was ringfenced for IT improvements last year, which is also funding the ‘paperless NHS’ drive, cybersecurity improvements, and free WiFi in every practice.

Readers' comments (19)

  • JH can foresee the future, we must grant him that. He's invested in a toilet as he knows that his App will not even get you a fast track to a toilet not to speak of an appointment with a GP.

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  • Cedric's response (re Luddites) is evidence of some locum GPs not understanding the reality of NHS General Practice in terms of the responsibilities GP partners have (which locums evade).

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  • AlanAlmond

    VIDHU MAYOR | GP Partner/Principal12 Sep 2017 11:12am
    Cedrics response says nothing about Locums just his/her own ignorance. I've read all the above comments and dont recognise anything suggesting tech phobia, maybe some concern about application, but not 'Ludditism'
    Vidhu, this article is about a politician grandstanding a simple iPhone app whilst general practice is collapsing around his ears. Negative comments about locums aren't called for, aren't relevant and demonstrate nothing more than unhelpful over gereralistic colleague bashing

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  • The Emperor Nero comes graphically to mind...

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  • In a further announcement today the Department of Health committed to investing in improving patient access using mind reading and teleporting. Using yet to be discovered technology, the NHS Programme for Pandering to Whims and Securing More Votes will enable round the clock detection of those lying struggling to sleep after looking up their blood results on the NHS app and Googling all the causes of a slightly dodgy monocyte count. Their named doctor will be immediately alerted and teleported directly to the client's bedside to provide reassurance, and to opportunistically check the smoke alarms. The BMA broadly welcomed the plan, highlighting an unmet need to improve 7 day access for the worried well, but asked how this could be achieved given that teleportation might not actually be discovered, and that a sufficient number of GPs to safely manage a normal Monday to Friday week is frankly the stuff of fiction. It was clarified that it might not be an actual doctor that teleports in, but an appropriate professional such as a firefighter's assistant who could not only check the smoke alarm but also measure blood pressures and advise 5-a-day.

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  • Nigel, give Panem a column.

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  • Vidhu it's nothing about locums not understanding. In fact most of us understand all too well, that's why we locum and not salaried or partner. We don't evade it, we choose to not be shackled and destroyed by it.

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  • This is not news....this service has existed for 5 or more years!

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  • Electronic communication helpful but NO Substitue for lack of G.P. numbers!A Distraction from the real concerns about Recruitment,Retention and Retirement Threats to a Safe GP.Service.

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