Patients to book GP appointments and access records through NHS app

Patients should be able to access GP services from a new integrated app from next year, Jeremy Hunt has announced.

NHS app: patients to have access to appointments and records (Photo: iStock)
NHS app: patients to have access to appointments and records (Photo: iStock)

Speaking at the NHS Innovation Expo in Manchester the health secretary said every patient in England would be able to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions, see their medical records, contact 111 and access long-term conditions support from an app by the end of next year.

But GP leaders warned the plan to improve patient access would not solve the problem that there are not enough appointments available to meet demand from patients.

Pilots are already underway. Under a trial in south London patients can already access NHS 111, book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and receive online consultations with their GP through their phones.

Long-term conditions

Mr Hunt said: ‘If the NHS is going to be the safest, highest quality healthcare system in the world we need to do technology better. So today I am setting seven challenges which, if we achieve them, will make the NHS a world-beater in the care of people with long-term conditions.

‘People should be able to access their own medical records 24/7, show their full medical history to anyone they choose and book basic services like GP appointments or repeat prescriptions online.

‘I do not underestimate the challenge of getting there - but if we do it will be the best possible 70th birthday present from the NHS to its patients.’

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘GPs have been the leaders in developing and using electronic records and innovative digital technologies and are always looking for new ways to enhance and support patient care. It's also important that these systems are well supported and that patients are given the right information on how best to use them safely.

GP appointments

‘However, new technologies that are created with the intention of improving access won't solve the fundamental problem that there are simply not enough GP and nurse appointments available for patients, as there are not enough GPs and nurses available to offer them or meet the growing needs of our patients.

‘With the NHS at breaking point, we need the government to take the evidence of a workforce crisis seriously and act to implement a long-term, well-funded plan that results in more GPs being available to treat the public.’

The DH will on Tuesday launch a consultation on which new areas the CQC’s ratings system should cover for digital GP services.

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