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A faulty production line

Practices providing access to millions more appointments online

More than 10 million GP appointments will be booked online by the end of this financial year, according to NHS England projections celebrating the rapid adoption of online services by GPs.

The same projection reveals practices are on course to deliver 15 million online prescription orders by April 2016 as well, with 97% of patients able to access online services since it became a contract requirement in 2014/15.

There are also growing numbers of practices offering online access to patient’s record information ahead of it becoming a contractual requirement by 1 April 2016.

So far this year patients have viewed their test results 268,144 times, and viewed letters about their care 257,825 times.

NHS England director of digital technology Beverley Bryant welcomed the improvements but called on practices to ‘go further, faster’ in the offer of online services in future and highlighted new guidance for ‘Patient Online’ services to support this.

She said: ‘We need to go further and faster – more patients, accessing more services and being able to view more information about their health and care.

‘This updated guidance and resource should give practices and their local partners all the information they need to be able to capitalise on the opportunities that technology presents to improve services for patients and increase the efficiency of their practices.’

Readers' comments (4)

  • These tend to be the most DNA'd appointments of all

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  • we have started to offer online services recently and patients have loved it
    improves access

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  • There must be a potential problem with the inverse care law, though: those who are most likely to have medical needs are least likely to be internet-savvy.

    Surely online booking tends to prioritise the worried well?

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  • There is always potential for introducing inequity of access and indeed there already is inequity. Working patients in particular can find it difficult to make contact or book an appointment by phone.
    Rather than create inequity, online booking helps to address it. Online booking releases receptionist time to book appointments by phone for the minority of patients who cannot use the internet. It also reduces footfall at the reception desk.
    We have many bad ideas imposed on us which we should resist but this is a great asset which we should embrace and promote.

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