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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Samsung phones to come with Babylon's GP app pre-installed

Millions of people will see Babylon's GP app pre-installed on their mobile phones going forward, after the private GP company announced a deal with tech-giant Samsung.

Babylon, which also offers NHS-funded service 'GP at Hand' to patients across London, launched the 'Ask an Expert' function within the Samsung Health app as of yesterday.

The function allows users to check their symptoms and book unlimited video appointments with a Babylon GP at a cost of £50 per year, or £25 for a one-off consultation.

Users can also order and manage prescriptions via the app, which is pre-installed on all compatible Samsung mobile devices.

Babylon founder and chief executive officer Dr Ali Parsa said: 'It’s very exciting to know that millions of Samsung users will soon be able to better manage their health using Babylon’s services as we deliver personal health assessments and treatment advice via their Samsung Galaxy devices.’

Samsung UK’s head of technology and services Kyle Brown said: ‘Now our customers will be able to look after their health from wherever they are – whether it’s checking a symptom or talking to a doctor – all within a few simple taps.’

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘As GPs face unmanageable workloads in the face of rising demand and chronic underfunding, waiting times for appointments are getting longer and patients are understandably frustrated.

'It is this situation in an NHS at breaking point that provides growing opportunities for private providers, who are likely to cherry-pick healthier patients at the expense of those with more care needs.'

And he argued that apps such as this were 'no replacement' for traditional general practice.

He said: ‘While apps such as this – and similar services available on the NHS – can provide access to a doctor via video, they are no replacement for the unparalleled, free at the point of access registered list-based system that has underpinned general practice for the last 70 years. The benefits of seeing the same practice team, embedded within the community, and offering continued person-based care cannot be disputed.

‘As general practice evolves for the 21st century, technology has much to offer for both doctors and patients, but it is NHS England and CCGs that are responsible for IT provision and they need to step up their support for practices so that they can embrace new ways of working.’

The news comes as Babylon now has 200 GPs on its roster, working across its private and NHS services, remotely or from its London headquarters.

These tend to a growing number of users, including half a million using its private GP services and 26,500 registered with its NHS-funded GP at Hand app.

GP leaders have expressed significant concern about the NHS app, which is as yet only available to patients across London, arguing the service 'cherry-picks' fit, young and healthy patients. Claims that GP at Hand has refuted.

Readers' comments (17)

  • Working at Scale + remote consultations + AI = problem solved.
    Apparently (rolling eyes emoji)

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Already get nonsense calls for urgent appts from NHS 111 (the latest today was a 19 year old girl who had joint aches for 2 months and they wanted to send her an ambulance this morning as the chest joints hurt a bit). Now we will get the calls for urgent appointments to examine patients who have video consulted with a doctor who has no access to their records and needs safety netting. There is a place in the future for video consultation - but with the protection of it being within a traditional registered list general practice setting when you can call in to lay on the hands....

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  • as I understand it when you register with babylon gp at hand you de-register from your previous gp ie it will not be up to us to deal with the calls described above.

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  • AlanAlmond

    The basic issue with the wonderful tech development that is ‘a GP on your smart phone’ is it’s entirely driven by business and consumerism. There’s no medicine in this at all. It hasn’t been adequately assessed as a viable safe alternative to face to face care and yet it’s been dressed up as such. It’s basically selling a lie, ‘if the Drs are doing it it must be safe’. It isn’t safe, no one has proven it so. Drs carry all this excess risk, anything goes wrong (and it self evidently will in a system where physical examination is not possible) This passive acceptance ‘it’s the way things are going’ is representative of the weakness of the profession as a whole. No wonder we are becoming extinct, virtually nobody has the energy to question anything anymore. It’s all just shoulder shrugging and acceptance. We deserve to disappear, we’ve got no guts.

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  • Rules regarding gps private work need updating. This should be an optional extra for existing practices to offer their patients should they wish at a price thus improving access and GP income.

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  • Sally GP - but the half million people using the app are still registered with a GP and the service will only work while there is the back up of NHS GPs for the inevitable advice to 'see your own GP' when the consultation becomes complex or needs a physical examination.

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  • New Zealand charges everyone a fee for a 15 minute consultation, fee's vary according to practice. The highest fee is generally in Wellington where the average fee is about £30.

    £25 for 10 minutes video VS £30 for 15 minutes face-to-face

    The public here are being ripped off and no-one not even the GMC is making an effort to educate them about it.

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