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Headline

The real problem with Babylon

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Babylon is a private company not a NHS GP service - poaching from precious NHS resources. Nigel I feel you are missing the point or underplaying it. Advertising has never been permitted in the NHS, nor has poaching patients from your colleagues practices in blatant underhanded ways - ultimately likely to lead to destabilisation of those practices and potential folding of essential services for all other patients. Yet adverts for this Babylon service are plastered everywhere and are already stealing patients from other practices - but only the nice and simple ones who probably need almost no real effort to look after, and minimal resources, hence the set up of this service. I am not a Luddite and am willing to embrace change within the NHS - but there has to be a fair and level playing field for all - and services which are non discriminatory for patients - or the same advantages available to all NHS GP practices (though this is not good for patients). For every fit and young patient of working age they steal - they are paid the GMS fee - which is taken from another practice. The all you can eat buffet contract currently in place in Primary care - is set up on the foundation of payments for patients is a standard set fee(aware of some weighting - but this is in reality a million miles from true cost to practices of the needy). If those patients rarely attend, and cost minimal resources, then that time and resource subsides the frequent attenders, young and unwell, elderly and palliative, and housebound - most of which need huge costs or time and manpower. They are only financially within GP's ability to look after as the subsidy from young/fit patients allow at economies of scale cross payment for that service to continue. Loose resources as Babylon takes the cherry from the cake - and the young/fit are no longer available to subsidise the ill/needy, then you would not have resources to maintain GP's or nursing/support staff. The remaining patients demand and need would outstrip what the practice can safely offer, and may mean they simply would be swamped with lower staffing levels, and some patients could no longer be seen at home, just because there are not enough hours in the day, and too many complex patients left - leading to potential burn out, and higher hospital and A&E attendances as services start to fail. Many overwhelmed practices would find it equally helpful to be able to tell patients wanting to register that they may not be suitable for the practice - turning away the pregnant, the needy, vulnerable, the elderly, housebound and palliative. All the patients who need lots of time and care. Since Babylon have a NHS practice to support them, they should be providing this back up services for any patients not suitable for their on-line service. No Babylon is not the final straw to break Primary care in its current format, but it could be another large and deep cut, of those thousand small cuts that are slowly bleeding it out. There is solution where Babylon subcontracts its services - and as example its 5 pound a month (60 pound a year private fee) could be subsidised and negotiated with a practice, to subcontract out this additional option for patients within their own practice to have access to on-line services, but that would be down to a practice to sign up to this, and would be less destabilising to the whole GP market. This would be harder for private companies such as Babylon to penetrate the market and is likely against the politicians privatisation agenda - required as part of the dormant trans-atalantic trade treaty with the US. Allowing Babylon to continue as it is - is breaking the stability within primary care - and will eventually lead to severe harm to vulnerable, elderly and housebound patients as the service as it is will become non viable, and a move to payment by interaction - which insurance and private companies desire will be closer to realisation, but financially impossible for the NHS - eventually leading to privatisation by the back door (exactly as some politicians have planned all along).

Posted date

02 Dec 2017

Posted time

12:47pm

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