GP at Hand quadruples list in three months as 12,000 young patients join

The south-west London GP practice running the GP at Hand video consultation service has seen its list size almost quadruple in just three months, with the overwhelming majority of new patients aged 20-39.

GP at Hand: offers video consultation service via smartphones (Photo: iStock)
GP at Hand: offers video consultation service via smartphones (Photo: iStock)

A total of 14,134 new patients joined the Lillie Road Medical Centre in Fulham between 1 November and 1 February, data from NHS Digital confirm. Of these new patients, 11,970 were aged between 20 and 39 years old.

The practice's total list size has grown from 4,970 to 19,104 in just three months since it offered access to the GP at Hand video consultation service to people outside its catchment area, inviting anyone living in a broad area of London or working in central London to switch from their existing practice and register as out-of-area patients.

Numbers of patients aged 20-24 at the practice have quintupled from 600 to 2,982  in that period, making them the fastest rising group - closely followed by 25- to 29-year olds, who have increased by 430% to 4,299.

How patient numbers have grown at Lillie Road Medical Centre

Patients registered with the service are offered 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'.

But GP leaders have hit out at the service for 'cherry picking' young patients, because unlike most NHS GP practices not all patients are considered eligible to sign up. Patients likely to have more complex needs can be refused the chance to register.

Analysis by GPonline confirms GP leaders' fears that the service would attract young patients away from other practices, leaving them with a higher proportion of older, more complex patients and stripping away a proportion of their funding. GP leaders have warned that the rollout of GP at Hand risks destabilising practices and have said that all practices should have been enabled to offer equivalent services at the same time to avoid this.

Patients aged 20-29 make up 51.5% of new patients who have registered for the service, while those aged 30-39 make up 33.2%. Patients in the 40- to 49-year-old age group make up 9.2% of new arrivals, while 3.6% are aged 10-19. Patients aged 50-59 are just 1.9% of new arrivals, but even numbers of patients in this category have nearly doubled - rising 77% to 616 in the three-month period. Other age groups have seen far more modest rises, or remained unchanged.

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How does the GP at Hand service work?

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