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First 36 GP practices sign deals with ‘Uber-style’ private GP company

Doctaly, the start-up company pairing NHS GP practices with private fee-paying patients, has signed deals with 36 UK GP practices.

This includes 35 practices in England, as well as latest sign-up Lockthorn Medical Centre based in Dumfries, Scotland.

The service is the first online platform in the UK that supports NHS GPs to see private patients.

VIa the app, GPs offer 15-minute consultations which cost £39.99 to £69.99 depending on the time and day of the week

Earlier this year Doctaly, which has described its service as ‘Uber-style’ after the taxi-hailing app, secured funding from 1,185 large and small investors via crowd-funding. 

GPs were being enticed to join Doctaly with added benefits when they invested in the campaign, and the company has said it is looking to recruit ‘as many doctors as possible’ from across the UK.

Patients already registered with the NHS practices are not eligible to use the Doctaly service and the private appointments are fitted around the contracted NHS hours.

Dr Manzoor Malik, GP Partner at Lochthorn Medical Centre, said the new model offered a ‘high-quality, user-friendly service for patients who are finding it difficult or inconvenient to access their GP’.

He said patients may want to use the service if they work near his surgery or who are visiting the area or if they want to see a GP urgently and cannot get an appointment with their usual GP.

Doctaly announced their intention to roll out nationally after a pilot in London.

Ben Teichman, who founded the service along with friend Dr Dinesh Silva who is a GP partner at a London practice, says that ‘every Doctaly patient is one less person in the NHS queue’.

‘We are very pleased to be offering Doctaly appointments at the Lochthorn Medical Centre for people who find this practice accessible and convenient,’ he added.

But GP leaders have previously raised concerns that the service could lead to fragmentation of NHS services.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of BMA Scotland’s GP committee said: ‘Patients who are considering private appointments will need to satisfy themselves that it will meet their needs, particularly as the appointment will be with a doctor they do not know and who will not have access to their NHS medical record.

‘The pressures facing many GP practices are what lead some patients to consider such services, but most would far rather see publicly funded general practice returned to a sustainable footing.’

He added: ‘The new GP contract in Scotland and the significant investment that is attached to it will help to deliver this and in time improve the care that practices are able to offer to patients.’