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Independents' Day

NHS offers £45m for GPs to implement electronic consultations

GP practices will be incentivised to offer ‘online consultations’ to patients through a £45m funding pot as part of a new injection of IT funding announced in NHS England’s General Practice Forward View.

The measures to cut GP workload, increase practice efficiency and help patients self-care will also see CCGs’ budgets for general practice technology investment increased by more than 18%.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously championed the use of e-consulting technology to improve access, and the GP Forward View states: ‘From 2017/18 NHS England will launch a new programme to offer every practice in the country over the coming years support to adopt online consultation systems. Depending on uptake, there will be up to £45 million extra investment to support this.’

NHS England has also introduced new ‘core requirements’ for IT setting out what services practices should expect to have funded by their CCG through the increased budget.

By the end of 2016/17 practices should expect to be able to message individual patients directly, by SMS or over the internet. This comes after funding for the national NHSmail system was scrapped last year leaving practices at the whim of local CCGs’ priorities.

 Other priorities for this year include:

  • Access to specialist support on information governance, cyber security, data quality and an annual practice IT review.
  • Capability to access patient records on mobile devices for home visits.

And one of the priorities for 2017/18 will see the e-referrals system, introduced to replace the unpopular Choose and Book, upgraded to allow two-way conversation between GPs and hospital specialists.

It will also ensure practice have access to:

  • Alerts when an electronic referral response is received, or not, and referral support tools.
  • Funding for the previously announced rollout of free wifi for patients and staff in all practices.
  • Funding for training practices and patients to use the new digital tools.

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Readers' comments (33)

  • Jeremy want's it= not good for doctors = it will make it easier for NHS privitisation

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  • NO WAY Jose' Hunt I cant hear you.

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  • face to face consultation = 1 consultation.
    Online consultation = 1 consultation.

    I know that Jezza struggles with statistics and numbers but how the f@ckydoo is this going to reduce workload?

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  • It'll only increase demand - open a new motorway and all you get is more traffic. It will only improve access for more trivia

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  • Even more reason to not choose general practice

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  • medicine tastes awful

    Stuff it - Mr Hunt-

    these consultations are unsafe both legally and professionally. As you say just goggle your rash and symptoms.

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  • Dear God this is yet more work. Hunt get the basics right before you fiddle faddle about with IT. I am aware it is 'cool' and 'sexy' but the fundamentals are wrong. It is falling about your ears you daft man.

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  • This is yet again another pathway to disaster. More demand and increased expectations. This is doomed to fail as more GP workload and chaos in the system that it will cause. It is a gimmick and not real medicine.

    Unsafe consultations. Increased and wrong expectations and risk to your registration is the outcome.

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  • FOR Gods sake!!

    what will it take?? its only getting worse and this will continue for at least the next 4 years


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  • Took Early Retirement

    I must have missed something here: how do you palpate a lump over the internet? Do you shove it against the screen perhaps?

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