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GPC negotiator calls for move towards virtual consultations

GPs should move towards setting up ‘virtual surgeries’ using social media and Skype, a GPC negotiator has said.

The new chair of BMA Wales, Dr Charlotte Jones, said that such schemes were ‘some way off’ but added that GPs should be open to new ways of working.

In a statement on the BMA website, Dr Jones said: ‘We need to be thinking about new ways to consult patients in the future.

‘Online consultations through virtual surgeries and Skype could be used, when appropriate, and it could help people manage their long-term conditions better. We must remain open to new ideas.’

The RCGP in its recent 2020 strategy plan recommended that GPs should run virtual clinics, hold consultations over Skype and communicate with patients over social media in an effort to provide more flexible and remote types of consultation.

The UK and Welsh governments have both signalled a desire to harness available technology.

Welsh health and social services minister Mark Drakeford earlier this year announced a rollout of a system of booking GP appointments online, while the UK Government has introduced the online DES, which rewards practices for offering online bookings and online patient access to records.