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Fourteen million patients register for online GP services

NHS England has hailed the ‘rapid’ rate of registration on systems allowing patients to communicate with their GP online.

Board papers said 14 million patients have registered with patient online services since the service launched in 2016.

It allows patients to book their GP appointment, order repeat prescriptions and view their records online.

Commenting on the figures at yesterday’s NHS England board meeting, operation and information national director Matthew Swindells said NHS England was ‘now seeing’ a ‘rapid take-off’ for the online systems.

But BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said that, actually, the uptake had ‘been slower than some expected’.

He said: ‘They cannot be implemented without proper resources and this has been a rate-limiting factor for their uptake.’

According Dr Vautrey, the systems have ‘the potential to empower patients, improve the way they engage with practices and when appropriately implemented could help to reduce practice workload’.

But he added: ‘It must also be recognised that online services can increase demand to access healthcare professionals.’

GPs have been mandated to increase the number of patients using online appointment booking since the 2015/16 GP contract.