GP at Hand's patient list growth starts to slow, data reveal

The growth in the number of patients registering with the controversial GP at Hand video consultation service in London is beginning to slow, official data show.

(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

The latest figures reveal that the list size of the Lillie Road Medical Centre, the practice in south west London which hosts the service, grew by 576 patients in the month up to 1 July 2018. This compares with an increase of 3,000 patients in the month up to 1 June 2018 and an increase of 2,500 in the month up to 1 May 2018.

The total number of patients registered with the practice is now 30,164 – a significant increase on the 4,970 patients it had registered in November 2017 before GP at Hand launched.

Of the 25,194 patients who have joined in that time, just over 21,500 are aged between 20 and 39 years old - confirming GP leaders' concerns that the service would disproportionately attract younger, healthier patients.

Hammersmith and Fulham CCG has warned that it needs a bailout of around £18m in 2018/19 to cope with the surge in patients arriving at the Lillie Road Medical Centre, many of whom will be residents in other London CCG areas.

Patients who register with GP at Hand are required to quit their existing practice and sign up as out-of-area patients with the Lillie Road practice.

The service restricts registrations from patients likely to have complex needs, such as pregnant women or those with some long-term conditions, leading to accusations of cherry-picking. Patients who sign up can receive video consultations remotely, or face-to-face consultations if needed at locations around London.

Last month, Ipsos Mori was handed a £250,000 contract to investigate the impact of GP at Hand including its long-term implications for the sustainability of traditional general practice. Initial findings are due this autumn, with a final report expected by March 2019.

GP at Hand and Babylon, the company whose technology it relies on, have said repeatedly that 'patients and GPs are flocking to GP at Hand because they recognise the potential that high quality, digital-first 24/7 NHS GP services bring'.

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