GPs to have hospital specialist advice at the click of a button
Every GP will be able to Skype or electronically message hospital specialists by the end of this summer to get advice on how best to manage a patient without having to make a referral.
NHS England’s Five Year Forward View delivery report, published last week, has set out IT improvements to reduce duplicated workload and improve access.
The report said that 'by summer of 2017 GPs will be able electronically to seek advice and guidance from a hospital specialist without the patient needing an outpatient appointment'.
The news comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted practices to become ‘one stop shops’ which were better able to manage complex long-term conditions, like type-1 diabetes and respiratory problems, in the community rather than in secondary care.
In other GP IT news, the NHS England update also set out plans to:
- Launch the ‘NHS Digital Apps Library’ of apps approved by the NHS as having a robust evidence base and demonstrable benefit in helping patients manage their health by spring 2017;
- Provide better waiting time information to patients booking outpatient appointments via tablets, smartphones and online so they can avoid those with longer waits by summer 2017;
- Make all referrals through the NHS e-Referrals system, which replaced Choose and Book and is currently used for half of first outpatient referrals by October 2018;
- And introduce systems for booking GP appointments ‘at particular practices’ and accessing records in all NHS 111, A&E and Urgent Treatment Centres by December 2018.
As previously reported, the main upshot of the Next Steps for the Five Year Forward View report was that all GP practices in England will be financially incentivised to come together in super practices or federations with 30,000-50,000 patients.