NHS app to end '8am scramble for GP appointments' by December

Patients across England will be able to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions and access their medical records through a free NHS app being rolled out from December.

NHS app to be rolled out from December (Photo: iStock)

Health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted the app to mark 'the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients'.

The app - developed by NHS England and NHS Digital - will enable patients to access their GP record, make appointments, order repeat prescriptions, manage long-term conditions and access 111 services for advice.

Patients will also be able to set preferences for data sharing, organ donation and end-of-life care.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard called the rollout of the NHS app a 'significant and constructive step', but warned that it must not add to GP workload, put patient data at risk or disadvantage patients who did not have access to smartphones.

She said: 'The new free NHS app that is being rolled out to patients represents a significant and constructive step forward in the way care is managed.

'Some practices already offer many online services and many have steps in place to adopt new technology but GPs and our teams are working flat out to meet patient demand and it is vital that all GP surgeries are provided with the additional support and the resources they need to ensure it is introduced as seamlessly as possible without disruptions to patients or practices.

'Adequate safeguards must be in place to ensure the utmost protection of patients' personal data, and considering that patient's medical history will be accessible on individual's mobile phones on the apps, we need to ensure that the security and reliability of the identity verification processes being used are of the highest international security standards.

GP appointments

'It is likely that smartphone savvy patients will embrace booking their GP appointments via this app – rather than calling their GP surgery- but it is important that patients who do not have a smartphone can continue to make bookings via phone or in person.

'As with any scheme it must also be rigorously independently evaluated to ensure it is safe and cost-effective for the NHS and that is beneficial to both patients and practices and that it does not add a further burden of workload pressures to already overstretched GPs and their teams.'

Mr Hunt said: 'The NHS app is a world-first which will put patients firmly in the driving seat and revolutionise the way we access health services. I want this innovation to mark the death-knell of the 8am scramble for GP appointments that infuriates so many patients.'

The app will be available through the App Store or Google Play, the government has confirmed, and will allow users to sign up for an NHS account once they have downloaded it.

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