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Independents' Day

Private GP service promises to be ‘Deliveroo for doctors’

A new service promises to ‘deliver’ GPs to a patient’s workplace or home, in the latest of a line of private service to spring up in recent months.

AKEA Life has marketed itself as a ‘Deliveroo for doctors’, based on the food delivery service, saying it will conduct consultations wherever the patient is located, charging £120 a month for pensioners.

Other companies marketing themselves over the past few weeks include a new service for frequent travellers launched by the Flight Centre travel retailer, and a new on-demand GP online service.

The BMA has expressed concern about new private services, warning that treating patients without full access to medical records makes treatment more ‘risky’.

It comes after a Pulse investigation last year warned that several new services, mainly using smartphone apps, were offering convenient GP appointments at a cost.

The latest private services include:

  • AKEA’s ‘Deliveroo-style service, which aims for patients to see the same GP every time and offers patients the chance to view all their confidential medical information such as consultations, test results and referral information;
  • The Flight Centre’s new service - for which they’ve partnered with Doctor Care Anywhere - offers video or telephone consultations with GPs who can then issue prescriptions to be collected at a pharmacy local in their respective destination. This business class perk is included in the cost of an international flight if booked via Flight Centre.
  • The ‘Video Doc/Doctor on Demand’ service, aimed at companies, which aims to cut down on employee absenteeism by offering video consultations from 8am to 10pm Monday to Sunday.

However, there are concerns about the level of patient care being offered by on demand GP services and whether treatment for patients is being compromised in not attending a GP practice.

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee deputy chair, said: ‘The BMA has expressed concern about the development of services like this as patients are treated without full access to their GP practice clinical record which makes prescribing and treatment more risky. What’s really needed is significant investment in NHS GP services to ensure practices can develop their services further to meet patient needs.’

Pulse reported last year that private companies were taking advantage of the pressure on NHS GP services, with the average waiting time for an appointment increasing to almost two weeks.


What the private companies say

Dr Jamie Paweleck, medical director at AKEA Life

’Nowadays, not only can it be difficult to fit getting medical advice around existing commitments - but it is no longer the norm to see the same GP. We want to change this, and bring back that relationship, while offering the convenience and immediate access that people now expect in most areas of their lives in 2017.

’Our mission at AKEA Life is to deliver a traditional family doctor to those who require healthcare to work around them. In the 21st century doctors need to be available for people 7 days a week and in the evenings. We can deliver that by provide a private practice environment that goes the extra mile for its patients.’

Mary O’Brien, co-founder of VideoDoc

’We know that at least 70% of all health-related issues which a GP might treat during an in-surgery visit can be treated via telemedicine consultations. So why, when the NHS is already over-burdened and access to GPs and primary care services are at an all-time low, is there such an inflexible approach to how and where we “see” our doctors – as well as a continuing culture of clogging up waiting rooms

’Millennials are the mobile, subscription and on-demand generation – taxis, TV and now healthcare! They’re simply not used to having to wait for services and not prepared to disrupt their working day for an appointment that could legitimately be accessed from their workstation. VideoDoc is healthcare, anytime, anywhere.’

Doctor Care Anywhere spokesperson

’Through the Doctor Care Anywhere service, customers will receive a free consultation via smartphone, computer, tablet or landline. Following the consultation, the doctor will type out the jargon-free notes and add them to that individuals’ patient record. If the patient requires a prescription, they can choose to have it delivered in as little as 4 hours within central London or pick them up at a nearby pharmacy, anywhere in the world.

‘To note, nearly 50% of Doctor Care Anywhere appointments end up providing medical advice without prescriptions. As well, any private referrals or fit notes will be uploaded to the patients’ record following the consultation for them to download and share with other healthcare professionals.’


Readers' comments (11)

  • The BMA need to get with the program or risk being overtaken by the market.Give us alternatives BMA or you will be bypassed by the course of events, be proactive not reactive.The establishment will not protect you when you are surplus to requirements you will just be dumped like yesterdays newspapers.

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  • If we are paid 120 £/ per month for each pensioner we can provide much better service. Question is who is going to pay us that kind of money when government gets away with paying us 120-130 per year?

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  • £120 per MONTH!, ah, we could only dream, presently in GP land we get £111 per patient per year!

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  • Home visits are very risky I'm afraid Jamie.That is why they hardly occur in the rest of the world.That and the cost to the punter.

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  • Bob Hodges

    "I find it alarming that seeing a patient within their own home or place of work is deemed as riskier than seeing them in a GP surgery"

    What??? In that case, some silly bugger has just wasted £8m on a new building for my practice, with all that 'light', appropriate (non-portable) equipment, additional staff to assist me, onsite pharmacy and medicines storage and diagnostics.

    Home visits are an anachronistic vestige of 20th century medicine. In Australia (an analogous but private system) they are very rare indeed, for good reason. They are also 'risky' for the visiting Doctor who is effectively a 'lone worker' in an unfamiliar environment.

    For me, it all smacks a bit of all that 'busy London lives' nonsense. Personally, reducing my professional role to visiting medical themed entertainment for people with more money than sense, turns me right off.

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  • home visits for gp's are such a waste of time and resources. misused by all old people's home (nursing home is different).
    these patients are walking and can be easily brought to surgery. it is free and relative get credit for getting doctor out.only person who suffer is poor gp. stop home visits free on nhs. who pays is up to government.
    my grand daughter was singing
    "Polly had a dolly she was sick sick sick. call the doctor to be quick quick. this is what children learn about home visits .£100 per visit would suit it is now , you spend petrol from your pocket.

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  • Basingrad - I'm inclined to your view - and probably of your vintage. But the Old Guard having failed us so consistently over the years, and given the mess we are in, I'm also reminded of the quotation: -

    “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”
    ― Shunryu Suzuki

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  • Let's welcome this service and the next one's that mushroom in our backyard. This is normal progression from a state of stagnancy and will eventually transform the system by changing the mentality of people which is the most important thing that needs to happen for a change to ensue.
    Private companies cropping up initially will have rates of £120 per home visit but when the market gets crowded, and it will, the rates will go down. The positive effect of this is also going to be slight decluttering at the Surgery door at 8 am and happier GPs working in the NHS with lesser pressure.
    I understand that not all are happy and treat Private GPs and services especially those delivered through apps and technology as safe, but as a person who is doing about 15 telephone consultations at lunch time, I am able to say that safety netting is ingrained in our DNA and be it in NHS or Private settings, we will be able to work equally efficiently. I'll raise a glass to the success of this and any future service that shows us that GP lives do not have to be dictated by the arrogant bosses in NHS.

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