New NHS GP Surgery Patient App Coming in December

Nicky Broyd

July 02, 2018

GP surgeries in England have 6 months to prepare for, and introduce, a new free NHS app designed to 'revolutionise' the way patients access health services.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care patients will be able to use the app to:

  • Make appointments with their GP

  • Order repeat prescriptions

  • Safely access their GP records

  • Manage long-term conditions

  • Access 111 online for urgent medical queries

The app, developed by NHS Digital and NHS England, will also allow patients to state their preferences when it comes to:

  • Data-sharing

  • Organ donation

  • End-of-life care

Revolutionise

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the app would "revolutionise the way we access health services".

In a statement he said: "Technology has transformed everyday life when it comes to banking, travel and shopping. Health matters much more to all of us, and the prize of that same digital revolution in healthcare isn’t just convenience but lives improved, extended and saved."

Matthew Swindells, NHS England national director of operations and information said: "The new app will put the NHS into the pocket of everyone in England but it is just one step on the journey. We are also developing an NHS Apps Library and putting free NHS wifi in GP surgeries and hospitals."
 

Support and Safeguards

The publicity material for the new app has made much of the fact it will help end the 8am queue of callers ringing for a GP appointment. 

However, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said in a statement: "Some practices already offer many online services and many have steps in place to adopt new technology but GPs and our team are working flat out to meet patient demand and it is vital that all GP surgeries are provided with the additional support and the resources they need to ensure it is introduced as seamlessly as possible without disruptions to patients or practices.

"Adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure the utmost protection of patients' personal data and considering that patients' medical history will be accessible on individuals' mobile phones on the apps, we need to ensure that the security and reliability of the identity verification processes being used are of the highest international security standards.
 

Apps Aren't for All

Prof Stokes-Lampard said the new app represents a significant and constructive step forward but cautioned: "It is likely that smartphone savvy patients will embrace booking their GP appointments via this app – rather than calling their GP surgery- but it is important that patients who do not have a smartphone can continue to make bookings via phone or in person.

"As with any scheme it must also be rigorously independently evaluated to ensure it is safe and cost-effective for the NHS and that is beneficial to both patients and practices and that it does not add a further burden of workload pressures to already overstretched GPs and their teams."
 

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