How does the GP at Hand video consultation service work?

The GP at Hand service is advertised as 'a free, transformative NHS service offering GP appointments within minutes via smartphone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year'.

Smartphone GP service (Photo: iStock)
Smartphone GP service (Photo: iStock)

How does the service work?

Patients who wish to register with GP at Hand will have to register with the service as they would with any other NHS GP practice - and deregister from their existing GP practice. The service is currently being rolled out across London, but a national rollout is expected 'in the near future'.

Once registered, the service offers patients the chance to book appointments through an app, and have a video consultation on their smartphone or computer 'typically in under two hours of booking'.

If necessary, same-day or following day face-to-face appointments can be booked and will be offered from clinics in 'convenient city-centre locations'.

The system will allow patients to play back a video recording of their consultation, and to 'check their symptoms with the world's most advanced artificial intelligence'.

Can anyone register?

Not all patients will be eligible to register with the service - patients who fall into any of the following categories may be deemed not to be suitable:

  • Women who are or may be pregnant
  • Adults with a safeguarding need
  • People living with complex mental health conditions
  • People with complex physical, psychological and social needs
  • People living with dementia
  • Older people with conditions related to frailty
  • People requiring end of life care
  • Parents of children who are on the ‘Child at risk’ protection register
  • People with learning difficulties
  • People with drug dependence

Who runs the service?

The GP at Hand service operates on technology provided by private company Babylon Health, and operates from the Lillie Road Medical Centre in Fulham, west London. Five further sites around west, central and east London are providing face-to-face visits as part of the service.

Dr Jefferies and Partners, who run the Lillie Road surgery, are offering the GP at Hand service under their existing GMS contract. NHS England says that the practice has opened the service up to people outside its existing patient list 'using the national GP choice policy to offer patients outside of their usual practice area general medical services through a digital and remote site offer'.

So, patients who register from outside the practice's standard boundary will be treated in the same way as 'out-of-area' patients registered with practices away from their home address under the existing directed enhanced service scheme.

Will the service have access to patient records?

The service will have access to patients' medical records in the same way as any other GP practice, because records will be transferred to the service for any patient who switches from their existing practice.

What if patients need a home visit?

Patients who require a home visit will be treated as normal by the Lillie Road surgery if they live within the practice boundary area. Those who do not live in this area and are not able to attend any of the practice's six locations may be asked 'to call 111 who will direct you to the most appropriate local service, which may be a GP practice near to where you live, the local walk-in or urgent care centre, A&E or minor injuries unit'.

Has GP at Hand been rated by CQC?

Yes. Dr Jefferies and Partners and the GP at Hand service have been rated 'good' by the CQC.

Read more: Why GP at Hand concerns GP leaders

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