Nearly 14m patients in England now use online GP services

There has been a 'dramatic' 42% increase in the number of people in England signed up for online GP services over the past year, NHS England has said.

Latest figures from NHS Digital show that nearly 14m patients are now using online services to book appointments, order repeat prescriptions and view their records. This represents 24% of all patients, NHS England said.

NHS England said that figures from February 2018 show that an average of 1m appointments are being made or cancelled online every month and nearly 2.3m prescriptions are ordered online.

NHS England’s Patient Online initiative has seen a concerted push for practices to increase the number of patients they have signed up for online services, which include appointment booking, requesting repeat prescriptions and online access to their records.

NHS England says there is increasing evidence that shows expanding the use of these services helps to improve access for patients, reduces administrative workload for practices and increases patient satisfaction.

Online services

It cited the case of The Swan practice in Buckinghamshire which, NHS England said, had halved its phone calls from around 50 to 25 a day after offering online test results to patients. This had saved staff 75 minutes a day to spend on other tasks in the practice.

Dr Masood Nazir, national clinical lead for NHS England Patient Online programme, said: ‘There are many demands on GP practices, so encouraging patients to register for online services is not only helping reduce some of the pressure but it is empowering, enabling and motivating more patients to share the responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.

‘We are seeing many examples of this particularly working well for patients with long-term conditions who can use their GP record to become more knowledgeable and confident about their condition, treatment and care prior to attending an appointment with their doctor or nurse.’

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