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GPs must email patients instead of sending letters, says Hancock

GPs must send patients emails rather than letters, says health secretary Matt Hancock.

Speaking at an NHS England conference today, Mr Hancock said email must replace letters, arguing they are just as secure but also cheaper than communicating through paper and fax machines.

Clinicians should email patients directly with appointment information to reduce delays and cut wastage, he said.

This comes as part of the health secretary's digital vision for the NHS, which was heavily promoted in the NHS long-term plan.

NHS organisations will be able to use 'any secure email provider – not just NHSMail – if it meets the required security settings', according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

This will allow NHS organisations to 'choose the best service for their needs' and will encourage email providers to 'innovate', it added.

In his speech, Mr Hanock said: 'Our mission now is to make it as easy as possible for GPs to communicate safely and securely with their patients and colleagues.

'There is no reason why a doctor cannot email a patient confidentially, for example with their test results or prescription, rather than make them wait days for a letter or ask them to come into the surgery. The rest of the world runs on email – and the NHS should too.'

In December last year, Mr Hancock announced fax machines would be phased out of the NHS, meaning that trusts can no longer buy them through the NHS supply chain.

As of last year, NHS trusts owned over 8,000 fax machines. Mr Hancock has instructed the NHS to be fax-free by 31 March 2020.

 

Readers' comments (24)

  • Vinci Ho

    So , in other words , Robocock , are you declaring to the public that ,’ You will not be informed or communicated by your family if you do not have an email address .’ ??

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  • Vinci Ho

    family doctor

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  • AlanAlmond

    fuck off..who the fuck are you to tell GPs how to communicate with their patients? megallo-fucking-maniac! i don't see the homesectetary demanding all lawyers stop sending letters and email everything instead ..why not ? because they'd get their arses well and truely kicked by the legal profession...is Drs? we seem happy to be anybody's bitch. what's the OBSESSION with controlling EVERY SINGLE aspect of GP behaviour ? i've truely come to detest these politician scum ..they are lower than shit. read it before it's gone fellow slaves - you are the health secretary's play thing , dance like a tea pot for his amusement.:.utter utter twat

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  • He’s a moron
    Sees a gap in the market to elevate his profile....amongst other morons (aka: MPs)
    Could be worse.... could be raining....
    Irony

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  • National Hopeless Service

    Dear Appy Matty, I pay for the envelopes and stamps not you so dont worry. But I will be pooing my pants when I find that the important information I sent my email ended up in someones junk mail box never to be looked at.

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  • Surely at least ask just one GP before coming out with these statements. The biggest worry about emailing a patient is them replying. Even if the email says 'we don't monitor this inbox please dont reply' some moron will reply asking what to do about his chest pain, then die over the next few days waiting for a reply.

    No doubt the doctor will then be hung out to dry.

    In an ideal world we would be able to use email AND have the resources available to monitor all the incoming mail and manage accordingly. But if you want that to happen it MUST begin with getting the right number of GPs. Come back when there are 6000 more GPs and we can restart the conversation.

    Keep up your end of the deal before creating extra work for everyone else.

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  • that's what you get when you hand over your taxes for some pie-in-the-sky, ivory tower politician to come up with 'bright' ideas to spend on ---- socialism. By all means, be altruistic to one another, and help whomever you want directly. But how can it not be obvious to anyone with 2 brain cells that you should avoid getting the state involved in most things, including healthcare provision.

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  • Cobblers

    "Leave it aht" AlanAlmond@9:29pm. Tell us what you really think?

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  • This is worse than what Jeremy Hunt was doing! Perhaps Mr.Hancock should now go to the Foreign Ministry to negotiate Brexit!
    And, of course, he looks and responds to every item in his email box whether or not he has any internet service. The man’s mad but his psychiatric appointment isn’t for at least six months.

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  • Spot on Alan Almond.

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  • Dear Mr Hancock
    Go and f**k yourself
    (No doubt you will have an app for that.)

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  • could do worse than to ensure we are able to do it before saying we must!
    We are only allowed to email to patients with secure NHS.net email addresses!!!
    and only if they agree.
    so we can't.
    anyway, GMC says we mustn't!

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  • today just seen a patient i referred by email and the out patient clinic she went to see could find no record of the email, even though we clearly sent it, had same issue last week for another referral. yesterday i gave a patient a paper copy of her recent test results to take with her to her clinic appt so i knew that the consultant would have the information they needed. this happens on a regular basis. computer systems regularly crash - as they did this weekend for 3 days. so no i won't be stopping using paper letters and fax machines for now till i get a 100% guarantee the system actually works. agree with alan totally. How dare anyone tell us how to do our job who has never worked in the NHS.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Keep sending in your ‘robust’ opinions on this matter. I am sure there are many ‘friends’ of the Health Secretary monitoring on this platform right now .

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  • |d in vadar | Locum GP|14 Feb 2019 1:19pm

    lol don't be naïve. they could try and do it by diktat, and if that doesn't wash, they'll incentivise it. e.g. those surgeries that adopt it get paid a few extra quid. And some will fall for it. Entirely justifiable and appropriate use of taxpayer funds of course (NOT!). But that's what you get with state intervention/socialised..... :)

    Angus, or anyone else, still arguing for MORE state intervention, higher taxation, increased government spending???

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  • We all are Christopher!
    Again slightly off topic!
    Clearly Hancock has no inkling how general practice works!

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  • Then you're a fool, DrDeath. If you don't want the state to govern how GP works, then you can't have the state funding it.

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  • Ah, Christopher my old friend. You know- if you actually worked in this country I might value your opinion.

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  • Alan Almond spot on.

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  • Angus, I do. And I value yours, cos its so easy to destroy it.

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  • David Banner

    Didn’t think this one through, did we Matt?
    I suspect his mandarins will quietly point this out, and we’ll never hear about it again

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  • Emails are part of telemedicine. Nice one Mr Hanjob.

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  • I'd love to do this provided

    Mr Hancock will be responsible for any network problem
    He will also ensure every patient will have email and internet
    He will also be responsible for junk box filter problem
    He will also be responsible for any phishing scams - yes, they will happen
    He will also have a system to prevent replies being sent to generic inbox

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  • The man is ( not surprisingly) totally unaware of the world in which we work. I have worked in areas where huge numbers of patients do not have access to e mail as they are too poor to own a computer or smart phone, or are too old
    or poorly educated to learn.
    As usual, a wealthy Tory assuming everybody else lives the life of privilege he does!
    Go and get a proper job Matt, before you start telling other people how to do theirs!

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