Exclusive NHS England is in talks with technology company AccuRx to extend an agreement that makes it free for GPs to use its video consultation service, Pulse understands.
AccuRx provided free software for GPs to use at the start of the pandemic, but in September announced it would begin charging for some of its main features from 2021, under a new premium version called AccuRx Plus.
More than 3,500 GP practices began using the AccuRx free software last year, when they were forced to switch to remote consultations almost overnight in the first weeks of the pandemic.
Remote video consultations are going to become a chargeable service on AccuRx from April but Pulse understands commissioners will be absorbing this cost for GP practices from 1 April to 31 December.
Pulse also understands that the funding arrangements currently in place will change, with the money for the service to come out of CCG budgets.
NHS England told Pulse: ‘The details for this are still being finalised’.
Announcing the premium charges in September, AccuRx told Pulse that as its ‘adoption has grown’ its ‘costs have too’, adding that it aimed to ‘become a sustainable business that can start tackling other communication challenges in healthcare’.
Dr Farah Jameel, IT lead for the BMA’s GP Committee, said at the time that NHS England ‘must provide CCGs with sufficient funds to purchase the user-friendly and secure digital systems that GP practices need’.
GPs told Pulse that losing the technology could pose a ‘major risk’ to patients.
AccuRx declined to comment on the discussions.