This site is intended for health professionals only

GP practices double the number of patients with online access

The number of patients who have signed up to online GP services has almost doubled in the last year, according to the latest figures from NHS Digital.

Nearly 14m people are now using the virtual services to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view their records.

This equates to 24% of the total patient population in England, and represents a 42% increase in the last year.

The figures also highlighted that an average of one million appointments were made or cancelled and nearly 2.3m prescription were ordered each month, without the patients calling or visiting their practice.

NHS England’s national clinical lead for the patient online programme Dr Masood Nazir said: ‘There are many demands on GP practices, so encouraging patients to register for online services is not only helping reduce some of the pressure but it is empowering, enabling and motivating more patients to share the responsibility for their own health and wellbeing’.

NHS chief digital officer Juliet Bauer added: ‘We’re delighted to see an almost doubling in the numbers of people accessing digital services in GP practices since last year. We’ve worked hard to support practice staff to be able to offer these services to their patients.

‘This is just one example of how we are increasing the use of technology in the NHS to empower people to take more control of their health, wellbeing and care.

These figures come after GPs were told that they would be required to increase the number of patients using online services to book appointments, as part of their contract. 

A 10% annual increase from April 2017 was recommended by Baroness Martha Lane Fox, who was tasked by health secretary Jeremy Hunt with developing proposals to increase digital innovation uptake.

The Scottish government also set a target asking for 90% of GP practices to ensure that they were offering online appointment systems by the end of 2017. However, a think tank report released last July warned that they were unlikely to meet this goal.