The National Health Service NHS UK has launched a 24-hour service which offers GP consultations via video link on smartphones.
The new service will streamline the process of traditional consultations with GP’s, the pilot scheme will cover 3.5 million patients in London initially. The app would let patients observe symptoms through the mobile app and then consult with their GP within two hours of booking via video conference.
However, the Royal College of GPs has raised concerns and warned that the service may not be able to help patients with complex needs and situations. The free service is launched by a group of London GPs and online healthcare provider Babylon.
Online Consultation Service
Doctor Mobasher Butt, part of the team behind the GP Service told BBC, “It’s high time that NHS patients are provided with an opportunity to use technology to improve healthcare.”
The technology is providing ease in every aspect of life whether it is banking, shopping or other public services, it’s now time to use it for NHS patients to improve healthcare, he added.
Jane Barnacle, director of patients and information at NHS England London said GP practices were right to carefully test the innovative technologies which could improve NHS free services for patients and save time for staff.
However, the Royal College of GPs argue that the new services might only be helpful for younger and healthier patients, it may not serve the purpose for older and the patients with complex circumstances.
Concerns about the service
According to Prof Helen Stokes Lampard, who chairs RCPG said, “We are worried about this development, this creates a twin-track approach to NHS general practice and that patients are being cherry-picked, this could eventually increase the pressures on traditional GPs based in the community.” She further said, “We can see there is an extensive list of conditions such as pregnancy, frailty, mental conditions but these are not eligible for this service. We are also concerned that patients would be given the option to switch back to their local surgery if they are not satisfied with the app service.”
“Patients confidentiality is another issue to be concerned with, how easily patients records would be maintained with this app are hard to see. The service is backed by NHS and offers free service to patients it would definitely lure GPs away from their front-line role in general practice in the meantime we there is a shortage of workforce and hardworking GPs are struggling with immense workloads.