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Scores of GP practices interested in GP at Hand collaboration, claims Babylon

Exclusive  ‘Tens of’ GP practices have expressed interest in partnering up with Babylon to offer its GP at Hand app to their patients, according to the company.

Babylon has been open about its intentions to expand the GP at Hand offering beyond London, where it offers the online-first service via a partnership with a GMS practice.

GP at Hand, which has defended itself against accusations it is cherry picking young and healthy patients, offers same-day online appointments with a GP within hours, or a next-day face-to-face appointment if necessary.

Babylon medical director Dr Mobasher Butt told Pulse that they ‘constantly get approached by other partnerships and groups of GPs who are interested in collaborating’.

Asked how many practices had got in contact, Dr Butt said: ‘I’d say tens of practices. I don’t think it’ll be as much as 100 but I hope that gives you an idea.

‘There are inbound requests that we get from partnerships, from individuals, from people who say “look, we think this sounds really brilliant how would we implement something like this in our in our local area”?’

But the company’s preferred method of expansion is by building on the existing partnership with Dr Jefferies and Partner.

Dr Butt said: ‘Current plans would be to extend our offering from our existing partnership.’

Despite this, he said Babylon would not rule out exploring new models.

He said: ‘We certainly wouldn’t be averse to thinking about other models for the delivery of digital-first care.

‘I don’t think there’ll be a single solution that fits all and I think as we expand these kinds of services and technologies to benefit more patients, thinking about different models that work for different localities is really important.’

The news comes as Babylon’s plans to expand to Birmingham, via its existing west London partnership, have been halted by CCGs and NHS England. This is due to patient safety concerns especially related to access to health screening.

GP at Hand has signed up over 30,000 patients from across the wider London area since launching in November last year, with GP leaders saying that the ‘disruptive’ model has destabilised traditional practices.

In the exclusive interview with Pulse, which comes as Dr Butt was named the most influential GP in Pulse’s annual Power 50 list, Dr Butt said there was interest in the GP at Hand model throughout the UK.

He said: ‘We already know there’s a demand from patients living in other cities but who are not yet eligible to apply for the service so we would like to definitely roll it out to other cities in the UK.

‘We would start in England [but] there is definitely interest from the other nations – Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.’

In the interview, Dr Butt also claimed Babylon data had showed 85% of GP consultations could safely be carried out online.