Dr Chris Mimnagh: GPs should not be too quick to dismiss new GP at Hand service

This week there's been quite a fuss over the launch of GP at Hand service from Babylon Health.

I've been clear on a number of social media platforms that amongst my clinical commitments I work for Babylon Health as a sessional GP.

I joined to learn video consulting intending to quit after three months and implement it in my own practice, but now it's been nearly two years.

So let me be clear- I'm writing my own thoughts here as an NHS GP and not as a Babylonian. I'm writing as a GP committed to the NHS and the health of the population I serve.

The growth in private services such as Push Doctor, Now GP and Babylon has been possible because parts of the population feel their traditional NHS GP services have failed them.

This is clearly not the fault of those practices who have modernised despite falling funding, who have adapted to a GP shortage with skill mix.

These new private services survive on the willingness of people or organisations to pay for responsive healthcare.

The government is clearly not prepared to foot that bill.

If the NHS had the ability, it too would offer a co-pay which would allow those people willing and able to pay to fund the NHS for others and gain access for themselves.

That solution does not exist, so the next best solution is harnessing the innovation shown by those start-ups like Babylon inside the NHS.

This is the reality of the GP at Hand service.

So if you have patients you feel would choose another service over your practice you have two options. Recognise that those people are no longer prepared to wait for your service to meet their needs and bid them farewell while you concentrate on the groups you do reach. Or transform your service to meet their needs - collaborate, federate and transform so the population has no need to consider a new model, because you'll be doing it already.

  • Dr Chris Mimnagh is a GP in Liverpool and head of clinical innovation liaison and deployment at The Innovation Agency, the academic health science network for the north-west coast.

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