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Independents' Day

Patients to book GP appointments through new app by end of 2018

Patients will be able to book GP appointments using a new NHS app from the end of this year, the health secretary has said.

Jeremy Hunt said the app, which was first announced at NHS Expo last year, will ‘mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments’.

The app will also allow patients to order repeat prescriptions, access NHS 111 online, set their organ donation preferences and data-sharing preferences.

However, GP leaders stressed the need for GPs to be given additional support and resources ‘to ensure it is introduced as seamlessly as possible without disruptions to patients or practices’.

The app, which has been developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, will allow patients to access their GP record, book an appointment, order repeat prescriptions, manage long-term conditions and access NHS 111 online.

The app will also enable patients to manage their data sharing, organ donation and end-of-life care preferences and will be available for everyone to download in December, following a testing phase from September this year. 

Mr Hunt said:The NHS app is a world-first which will put patients firmly in the driving seat and revolutionise the way we access health services.

‘I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients. 

‘Technology has transformed everyday life when it comes to banking, travel and shopping. Health matters much more to all of us, and the prize of that same digital revolution in healthcare isn’t just convenience but lives improved, extended and saved. 

‘As the NHS turns 70 and we draw up a long-term plan for the NHS on the back of our £394m a week funding boost, it’s time to catch up and unleash the power of technology to transform everyday life for patients.’ 

Last month, the Prime Minister announced an extra £20bn for the NHS, with the health secretary saying that some of the money should be earmarked for primary care.

Matthew Swindells, national director of operations and information at NHS England, said: 'The new app will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England but it is just one step on the journey, we are also developing an NHS Apps Library and putting free NHS wifi in GP surgeries and hospitals.'

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said that the app is ‘a significant and constructive step forward in the way care is managed’. 

She added: ‘Some practices already offer many online services and many have steps in place to adopt new technology but GPs and our team are working flat out to meet patient demand and it is vital that all GP surgeries are provided with the additional support and the resources they need to ensure it is introduced as seamlessly as possible without disruptions to patients or practices.

‘Adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure the utmost protection of patients’ personal data, and considering that patient’s medical history will be accessible on individual’s mobile phones on the apps, we need to ensure that the security and reliability of the identity verification processes being used are of the highest international security standards.'

NHS England recently launched a national data opt-out scheme, which will invite patients to opt-out of GP record sharing for research purposes from June.

Readers' comments (21)

  • David Banner

    8am, the door opens....
    “Thank God I’m first in the queue, I need to see a GP today!”
    “Sorry sir, all the appointments are taken”
    “”But I’m first in the queue! And there’s 20 more behind me!”
    “I’m afraid all appointments were booked by the worried well on the app over the weekend”
    “This is insane, I can’t afford a smart phone, and I don’t use a computer, why don’t you free up some appointments for people who are, you know, sick!”
    “Ask Mr Hunt sir, he has ended the 8am scramble by putting all appointments on the app”
    “AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!”

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  • EMIS already has this facility

    Pts booking online..for some..very inappropriate..e.g...or booked online to get BP checked with GP..complete waste of appt time
    Another booked for wound check..again that's why we employ nurses and HCA's
    Advance...??? Backward step in my opinion
    Receptionist are great for directing pts to right health care professional

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  • Bob Hodges

    What appointments?

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  • IT is the Tory way of siphoning cash out of the NHS. What caused the crisis in the first place? Severe cuts in essential frontline services and massive investments in IT - apps and the like with nobody to deal with real patients left.
    You don't need a hunt to look for suckers- look around - all patients are being stuffed and 'App-lied'.

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  • Once again the front line will have to design methods to be SEEN to be doing something whilst battling the day job as usual. ie keep a few "app" appointments but embargo the rest. The basic service must be stabilised before introducing gimmicks.

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  • This BS doesn't alter the fact that there is under capacity in primary care primarily because since 2004 we have been serving a politically inspired penance which while starving primary care of resources has accelerated retirement and emigration and reduce recruitment.This happening in an age of increasing age and frailty of the population will mean the collapse of the WHOLE service on a politically inspired whim.This will not address access as 20 billion tomorrow will not address funding.Time to have an adult conversation,but our leader collude with the establishment,so roll on the collapse.

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  • Ever more additions to our perfect IT systems which never ever malfunction. Why not let all the IT savvy people just consult the computer and be done with it rather than have their time wasted needing to see a real person. It’s coming you know although pilots for this were found to be wanting! There’s a surprise (not!) but this would dispense with GPs altogether and what a saving that would be for the NHS with all that freed money to be used so appropriately! Yes I got a gold medal in cynicism at the last Olympic Games and will be there to defend my title next time!

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  • Knowledge is Porridge

    The best system is turn up and wait...sitting for a while gives people some understanding of demand, urgency, resources.
    It could be integrated into the app...with all diagnostic trees ending with "turn up and wait", similar to 111 but without the comment about whether or not they are breathing.

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  • Don't worry by Christmas we will also prioritise those patients who do not have internet access over all the other priority groups followed by all patients must be prioritised every day 24/7 by Easter,

    Only problem is, no capacity now, no new staff coming along, game over.

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  • Tantalus

    Amazing...... so this new app will find 5000 extra GPs and create loads of extra appointments will it?

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