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GP access to free video consultation systems extended until the end of the year

Video consultations

NHS England has extended a temporary central deal which will ensure GP practices have continued access to AccuRx and other video consultation technology until the end of this year.

Practices have had free access to a range of platforms since March 2020, when NHS England set up a temporary contract in response to the move to remote consultations brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The extension is to ‘ensure no practices lose access to a service before it can be procured locally’, NHS England said, but it added CCGs must enter their own local agreements to continue services beyond 31 December.

This followed an announcement by AccuRx last year that some of its functions would become subject to a premium charge.

During the contract extension, costs ‘will be paid centrally’ but ‘offset against each CCG’s Digital First Primary Care funding’, NHS England said.

In a blog piece detailing the changes, NHS England said that there will be ‘a range of products for commissioners to consider’ and that these should be ‘working on securing local video consultation services under local contracts and engaging with practices and PCNs about their requirements for this service’.

It said this comes despite NHS England not seeing ‘especially large volumes of video consultations happening in general practice in recent months’, but that GPs needed the option where ‘helpful’ and where it falls under the ‘core digital offer‘ practices need to provide.

The news comes as Pulse revealed last month that NHS England was in talks with technology company AccuRx to extend the agreement providing free access to its software.