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A faulty production line

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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  • The same way FaceTime isn't a replacement for meeting your friends and family, electronic consultations won't be either. This will fail, it will create more work load as the worried well will simply FaceTime us with every symptom they experience.

    I wonder if any of Jezza's friends are on the boards of companies proposing to help us set this up?

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  • Will Jeremy Hunt please name the medically qualified advisers who are encouraging this? I want to know who is responsible and what use they propose to make of video consulting thenselves.

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  • is it not something like 90% of diagnosis is not from what is said but what is in front of you? We manage to deal with a huge amount of worried well on the phone (these actually take as long as a physical consultation NHSE) and a bit of common sense would reduce these contacts or taking some responsibility for oneself.
    Where I work internet is not fast enough to stream low quality youtube so how are GPs going to deal with this in 20 Practices with say 120 GPs doing it all at once? What about indemnity? what exactly are we going to make legally and morally binding clinical decisions on using this system that cannot be dealt with either using a phone call or a physical appt? what about the fact it is a complete crock of s*&t - , this takes lack of intelligence to a whole new level! Why not use carrier pigeons or smoke signals, equally as reliable I imagine.

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  • for the 8000 practices in England this is about £100 per week for about 4-5 Skype / FaceTime contacts (waste of time and effort as clinically unsafe and will not work outside major cities)
    or as NHSE spin would have it, it is the equivalent of 450 more GPs straight away from their magic box. Definitely push for the lack of evidence bull - if we open the flood gates of emails and FaceTime and we lock all the doors we'll still be doing 14 hour days and never see a single patient. Go on Maureen, it's brilliant isn't it? Please GPC we want more demand, more contacts, but be sure to roll over very nicely when asked.

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  • Is there any wonder why med students dont want to go anywhere near general practice?

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  • We are taught to look for non.verbal cues and examine and look into
    at a patients feeling.
    This has a checkout service my bus conductor


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  • 1: Get GPs used to/trained doing skype consultations on a daily basis. As we all know there is massive resistance to doing on-line consultations for most GPa.

    2: Private companies set up GP call centres and make mega-bucks.

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  • Also all the video consultations would be stored somewhere and be easily brought out if there was a complaint.
    Indeed if there were any future GMC investigations then any or all video consultations made by that doctor could be scrutinised by the GMC to try to find evidence against the doctor.

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  • no way I am doing this. Phone is bad enough and suitable only to triage not diagnose.

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  • Using technological means(reading pulse) I have diagnosed the medical elite with a deadly virus(to the profession)It seems to turn their higher neurological functions to brown smelly stuff you wipe off with toilet paper.Patient zero is Mr Hunt and its highly infectious.No to this brown smelly stuff from me.

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