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Babylon highlights the contradiction in the health secretary’s strategy



Babylon were this week given the green light to start registering patients in Birmingham. They will continue to do this through their practice in Hammersmith and Fulham, in west London.

At a time when primary care is becoming central to managing the local health economy through primary care networks, the fact that a practice can be looking after the local health needs of patients 100 miles away seems bizarre.

This highlights a contradiction in health secretary Matt Hancock’s strategy – on the one hand, a push for more secondary care to be carried out in the community through primary care networks; on the other, an increase in the use of tech to allow patients to be seen remotely and exercise more choice.

It won’t be long before others – including existing entrepreneurial practices – start copying Babylon’s model

It won’t be long before others – including existing entrepreneurial practices – start copying Babylon’s model. We will have patients registered with practices miles away, where they can get a video consultation for any minor ailment. As access becomes easier, these ailments will no doubt become ever more minor.

As ailing Brummies may soon discover, the highest-res video consultation imaginable isn’t going to replace the hands-on approach requirements of a London-based first-contact physio or paramedic. The default then becomes secondary care – they very thing that we are trying to move away from.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk