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Independents' Day

Private online provider partners with GP networks covering 88,000 patients

Private online GP provider Push Doctor has partnered with two primary care networks in Birmingham, giving 88,000 NHS patients access to video consultations.

In the announcement today, Push Doctor said it agreed a deal with 'Urban Health' and 'I3' primary care networks, which cover 13 practices in the Birmingham area.

This means it now covers huge swathes of the region after the private provider signed a deal with West Midlands-based super-practice Modality in September last year to cover a quarter of its 400,000 patients - which also included practices in Yorkshire, London and the South East.

But local leaders warned that the technology is spreading too quickly, with a lack of evidence.

Push Doctor explained the new arrangement will initially be piloted at the Halcyon Medical surgery in central Birmingham, with the intention to roll out to its other practices in due course’.

The service works by offering patients the option of a virtual consultation with Push Doctor GPs when they go to book their usual face-to-face appointments with their practice.

Chair of Urban Health and partner at Broadway Health Centre Dr Imran Zaman said: ‘The NHS long-term plan lays out ambitions to provide a service fit for the future. I believe that digital health is a key component of this strategy.’

‘People don’t live nine-to-five lives and by offering them video consultations we hope we will be able to provide expert medical guidance in a convenient and professional, patient-centred manner,’ he added.

Push Doctor chief executive officer Wais Shaifta said: ‘Practices can leverage our pool of quality doctors and reduce the burden on their teams.’

According to the announcement, Mr Shaifta plans to make Push Doctor services available to ‘75% of the population within five years through such partnerships with the NHS’.

Earlier this month, a Push Doctor former advisor was appointed as health minister for innovation, a title which includes digital health.

This move was criticised by Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister MP Jon Trickett who called it ‘yet another shocking example of the revolving door between highly paid advisory roles and lobbying, and the Government’.

However, it was shortly followed by the news that then NHS England chief digital officer Juliet Bauer was leaving her job to join private online GP provider LIVI.

Last November, LIVI partnered with a GP federation of 40 practices in North-West Surrey, to provide video consultations to 360,000 patients.

But Walsall GP and LMC medical secretary Dr Uzma Ahmad said she is 'concerned' this new technology is being promoted too quickly, without clear evidence as to how it relieves GP pressure.

She said: 'I'm concerned that this technology is spreading so quickly, across so many areas, when there is a lack of evidence that it really relieves demand for GP services. My fear is that this will only create new demand.'

'There also needs to be more transparency when it comes to people moving from roles within the Government to roles in these private companies, and the other way around,' Dr Ahmad added.

Last week, the Government released the NHS long-term plan, which promised digital GP appointments for all patients.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Can someone explain how this actually works re payments etc?

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  • AlanAlmond

    bullshite and greed. say the right things, prostitute your profession and get rich. the west midlands is full of greedy 'business' Drs like this, they want wealth, status and a fancy car. pushed into a medical career by their family, entirely motivated by a desire for power and wealth. the west midlands is the arse hole of the u.k. no suprise the mega practice has taken off here and it's lapping up this push Dr crap, the place has no sole, and no coherent sense of self, the perfect incubator for this shite

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  • Good one Alan,a lot of our supposed comrades have sold their souls not just in Brum.A lot of other places, the UK is a septic tanks for medics at the moment.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I have looking up these words in my dictionary:
    You know my poor my English has been 😅

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  • I’m struggling to see how this helps a) save time b) the staffing crisis. A 10 minute consultation is 10 minutes whether it’s face to face or via a video app. I don’t really see how it’s any better than a telephone consultation. You can’t examine or do obs (both of which if you’re fast you can do in a 10 minute face to face consultation), therefore video consulting is actually likely to take up more time/resource as the patient will need to be physically seen afterwards. Emporers new clothes anyone?

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  • I did not realise that we could house a private GP provider in house and encourage patients to use that.

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  • So, lets see the evidence...

    1. it is safe
    2. it improves the current dire workforce problems rather than shifting them around
    3. it is cost effective and won't destabilise and/or replace existing practices

    Can anyone get hold of the business case or model? Pulse - got any investigative journalists?
    We need to know that this isn't just private providers trying to wreck the existing system before it burns through its investor capital, leaving the government with no other option but to use them to deliver primary care.

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  • My computer system repeatedly crashes. I struggle to see how it can save time. The more I see, the more clinical risk I take on. These super practices are just managed by greedy GPs who does not want to see patients but get someone else to see. Good one Alan.A lot of CCGs are full of these GPs.

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  • I think Alan makes some very good points but whether or not the West Midlands is the arsehole of the UK is not proven. They do have an excellent police force though...

    The characterisation made of the GPs involved in this scheme is on point; their heart is not in it for the right reasons and as a follow-on from this their clinical skills tend to be shi't and avoidance of patient contact which will reveal their ineptitude is a logical response.

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  • I am aware of our ‘college’ awarding fellowships for innovation for this kind of shite, gone soon TF

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