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Give all patients right to email GP consultations, say Lib Dems

By Ian Quinn

Patients should have the automatic right to email and telephone consultations with their GP, the Liberal Democrats said today.

In a pre-election health policy document the party released this morning, they claim the move could cut GP visits by patients by more than a quarter.

The proposal is contained in a blueprint for the NHS drawn up by the party’s health spokesman, Norman Lamb, which also backs Conservative calls for the national rollout of the Summary Care Record to be abandoned and for Connecting for Health to be scrapped.

The paper also calls for Choose and Book to be drastically scaled back in its scope, a move it claims would be widely welcomed by GPs.

Mr Lamb claimed the move to email consultations would ‘save valuable clinician and patient time’.

‘In so many other walks of life we exchange emails to avoid waiting for a formal meeting,’ he said. ‘There is no reason why the same logic should not apply in the NHS.’

He pointed to evidence produced in the United States by Kaiser Permanente, showing that using email and telephone consultations had cut GP visits per patient by an average of 26 per cent.

Addressing other IT projects, however, the party urges the Government to go even further with proposed cutbacks, and echoes Tory calls for centralised DH backed IT bodies to be culled.

‘Connecting for Health, which is responsible for the implementation of the National Programme for IT, should be abolished,’ says the report.

It adds: ‘The Choose and Book system should revert back to what it was originally designed for – a simple on-line appointments booking system.’

GPs should offer all patients email consultations, say the Lib Dems GPs should offer all patients email consultations, say the Lib Dems