GP appointment: Alternatives to in-person visits if you’re struggling to get booked in

Richard Madeley dumbfounded by GP 'home visits'

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Speaking to Lucas said: “Video appointments can improve patient’s access to healthcare and alleviate pressure on GP practices.

“More patients are turning to digital healthcare because it means they can get help more quickly, often the same day.”

Lucas highlights the speed with which someone with a medical issue can access health advice; this is particularly pertinent in the event someone is concerned about the potential presence of cancer.

Furthermore, Lucas adds that “many conditions can be treated effectively through video appointments”; this includes severe forms of eczema.

Meanwhile Graham Kendall of the DHC says there is data proving the effectiveness of online appointments in terms of quality of service and quality of time.

In a statement Kendall said: “Evidence shows that when patients have a genuine choice, most choose a remote option.

“This means they can avoid unnecessary travel, time off work, childcare, and having to sit around in waiting rooms. It also frees up GP capacity for those who want and need face-to-face appointments.”

Kendall added: “Remote consultations also allow staff to deliver a more responsive and efficient service.”

Discussion over in-person versus online appointments comes at a time when GPs are threatening to strike over a proposed new contract put forward by the NHS.

The new contract would force GPs to offer appointments on weekday evenings and Saturdays.

Changes to GPs’ contracts have come amid concerns patients are struggling to access GPs after a drop was seen in the number of face-to-face appointments being offered.

GPs have been told they most offer routine appointments, including face-to-face appointments, by October.

However, the plans have angered over-stretched and overworked GPs.

The fear is the extended hours and extra day would push them beyond the brink and lower the standard of care.

Chairman of the Royal College of GPs, Professor Martin Marshall, said in a statement: “The number of highly trained, experienced GPs planning to leave the profession early is concerning, but not altogether unsurprising given the intense workload and workforce pressures GPs and our teams are working under on a daily basis.”

Meanwhile, GP Dr Martin Whitenburgh added: “I don’t recognise the job anymore and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone pursuing a career in general practice.”

Such is the pressure on NHS GPs, more and more are moving over to private practice.

In a statement a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “We are grateful to GPs for their hard work and we are supporting and growing the workforce.

“There were 1,400 more doctors working in general practice in March 2022 and a record-breaking number started training as GPs last year.”

However, while these GPs are still in training, they are not on the frontline; it could be years until the benefits of these fresh GPs are seen.

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