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General practice will be a ‘virtual service’ in new towns, says Stevens

General practice will in future be accessed via a ‘virtual primary care service’ with patients calling GPs on their iPhone and face-to-face interaction happening via video consultation, NHS England’s chief executive has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Simon Stevens said that the concept of physically attending a GP appointment was ‘alien’ to entire generations of people in their teens, 20s and 30s.

He said that the NHS will look to pioneer this new health service model in new towns, like Ebbsfleet in Kent, and in high population growth areas like Tower Hamlets.

Mr Stevens told the Financial Times these towns would start with ‘the default assumption that digital interaction will be the main way that people will interact with the health service’.

He said that rather than registering with a GP, patients would sign on to: ‘the virtual primary care service, and then… rather than booking an appointment, just be able to call up a doctor or a nurse on [their] iPhone, and have the face-to-face interaction there’.

He added: ‘The idea of booking appointments and physically turning up to GP surgeries for routine things is an alien concept’.