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RCGP calls for Government funding for all GP practices to e-consult by 2022

The RCGP wants the Government to spend part of its £20bn NHS funding boost on GP e-consultation software and high-speed broadband.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard called on the Governmnet to roll out e-consultation facilities in all GP practices by 2022.

She noted that without funding, it was ‘simply unfeasible’ to expect practices to implement new technology themselves.

Speaking at the Annual RCGP Conference today in Glasgow, she complained about the ‘sky high’ costs of new technology which make it impossible for traditional practices to keep up with tech company entrants to general practice.

In response, the Government should fund the development as part of the long-term plan for the NHS due this autumn.

Professor Stokes-Lampard said: ‘I call for the Government to commit to having e-consultation facilities in every GP practice by 2022 and ensure that every practice across the UK has high-speed broadband capability.’

She added: ‘Tech costs money. And for GP practices that are already on the brink, implementing new, good technology is simply unfeasible…

‘The Prime Minister earlier this year announced over £20 billion extra a year in real terms for the NHS by 2023.

‘That money should be used to ensure a 21st century NHS with a 21st century general practice.’

It comes as earlier this year, Professor Stokes-Lampard said the NHS needs to learn from Babylon’s ‘phenomenal’ GP at Hand app, and should roll out similar technology across general practice as a whole.

Earlier this week, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey warned that GP practices risk ‘going under’ when they take on email consultations without considering the practice’s capacity.

But he backed the RCGP chair’s call for practices to be supported with technology to be able to carry out e-consultations.

He said: ‘We want systems that support practices to reduce workload and help patients. We have concerns when systems are implemented in a way that fuels more demand and makes it more difficult rather than better for practices to cope and this does require good implementation and support.’

Dr Vautrey added that ‘every practice should have the option’ of carrying out e-consultations, but said ‘what we don’t want is one single system imposed on individual practices’.

The Government announced £20bn extra NHS funding for the NHS for the next five years in June, and is currently working up a plan for how it will be used.

As previously reported, Professor Stokes-Lampard also used the RCGP conference to accuse new tech firms entering general practice of ‘bully boy tactics’, and siphoning off young and healthy patients.