GPs call for investigation into 'misleading' private appointments ads

Leading GPs have complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about 'misleading' ads by a private online GP service.

Dr Jackie Applebee: concern over online GP ads
Dr Jackie Applebee: concern over online GP ads

GP members of the Doctors in Unite union said in a letter to the press that they were ‘disturbed’ by posters on the London Underground for online service Push Doctor, which claim customers can access 'an NHS GP whenever you want’.

The GPs said the ads were ‘misleading’ because they did not mention the £20 per 10-minute appointment fee for the private service.

Push Doctor's website says customers can access a GP online within six minutes between 6am and 11pm 365 days a year. The service offers prescriptions, child consultations, sick notes, referrals and other services. Under an NHS logo the company says: 'Feeling unwell? Looking for advice? Speak with an NHS trained doctor in as little as six minutes'.

Online GP service

A petition set up by the campaigning group 38 Degrees calling on the ASA to investigate the ads has been signed by more than 80,000 people.

The petition draws attention to a CQC report on the Push Doctor service, which found it was 'not providing safe, effective or well-led services', although its service was 'caring and responsive'.

The June 2017 report found high-risk drugs had been prescribed without correct monitoring and tests as well as inappropriate prescribing. The CQC also criticised the Manchester-based provider’s IT systems and record keeping.

The company said at the time of the report that it disputed some of the findings.

In their letter Doctors in Unite chair Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairs Dr Jackie Applebee and Dr Coral Jones and secretary Dr Louise Irvine it was not apparent from Push Doctor’s ad that patients would have to pay £20 for an appointment.

Two-tier GP service

Dr Applebee, who represents Doctors in Unite on the GPC told GPonline services like Push Doctor were a ‘slippery slope towards a two-tier GP service’.

‘As more GPs opt to work in these private services it leaves even less of us to man the teetering NHS service, leading to a downward spiral,' she said.

‘That this service seeks to mislead people by stating that "you can see an NHS doctor" is disingenuous.’

Push Doctor CEO Eren Ozagir said: ‘We are aware of the online petition regarding our July advertisements. We want to make it clear that we wholeheartedly support the NHS and, like them, are working diligently to provide great healthcare to people in every part of the country, in the most convenient, safe and easy-to-access way possible.'

He added: ‘GPs on the Push Doctor platform are on the NHS performers list. We list our costs clearly on the front page of our website and within the app.’

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

'How I survived a bewildering ten-month investigation by the GMC'

'How I survived a bewildering ten-month investigation by the GMC'

How does the experience of a GMC investigation impact on the lives of doctors? One...

90% of patients would recommend their GP practice to friends or family

90% of patients would recommend their GP practice to friends or family

Nine in 10 people would recommend their GP practice to a friend or family member,...

NHS documentary spells out threat to future of the health service

NHS documentary spells out threat to future of the health service

A documentary film appearing in cinemas across the UK next month tells how the NHS...

GP funding rose much faster in rest of UK than England in 2018/19

GP funding rose much faster in rest of UK than England in 2018/19

Total NHS investment in general practice in England rose just 1.36% in real terms...

GP funding per patient rose less than 1% in 2018/19

GP funding per patient rose less than 1% in 2018/19

GP funding per patient in England rose to £154.81 in 2018/19 - up just 0.7% from...

Temporary cap extended on GP at Hand registrations in Birmingham

Temporary cap extended on GP at Hand registrations in Birmingham

A temporary cap on patients in Birmingham registering with Babylon GP at Hand has...