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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.

Readers' comments (6)

  • Whatever.
    You've lost the best value working people Jeremy, by treating them like dirt.
    So no plan is now going to work
    And any solution is going to be very costly.
    You created a vicious environment for doctors it's now time to reap the reward.
    Ever heard the phrase if you think hiring a professional is expensive , tan amateur will cost you everything?
    You'll get to know it...

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  • Spot on Simon.

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  • All this will mean is all the work will come our way instead on them being seen in clinic. Good idea in practice but consultants will just say 'just get MRI, do these bloods, then if all ok it's not X etc.' There's a reason why we refer to a specialist.

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  • Why have a specialist,have robo-consultant powered by GOOGLE.But what about the indemnity will it be by the NHS or by GOOGLE.

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  • 'Name and address supplied'

    How true. On a duty day I am making many decisions in between my already meagre 10 minute appointments.

    Faced with an ill patient, I have about 10 minutes to sort them out. If they are going to take longer than a turf to secondary care, I have no time to write all the forms and then look out for the results.

    Unless they are going to give us 15 minute appointments then we will continue to need our secondary colleagues to do what they are trained for, namely exercise their brainpower on the problem in hand and sort out the patient.

    If you are a specialist then it comes easily, while the poor GP is wading through treacle, having to look up each step. If you want us to be specialists, then we will be a lot more inefficient than the specialist. Admittedly we will be cheaper, but only until we all leave due to impossible work conditions.

    Let each of us work to our roles and abilities, not try to do everyone else's job - badly.

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  • Bob Hodges

    A tan amateur Simon?

    I know you're from Essex, but there's no need for that.

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