NHS digital chief quits to join major GP video consultation provider

NHS England's chief digital officer has quit her job to join a major provider of online GP consultations, just days after the health service promised online GP access for all patients within five years.

Online consultations (Photo: iStock.com/Georgijevic)
Online consultations (Photo: iStock.com/Georgijevic)

The NHS long-term plan published earlier this week set out plans to give patients a 'right' to access online GP consultations by 2023/24.

The proposal looks set to force GP practices to compete with new 'digital first' providers of general practice services - making clear that patients will be able to choose online consultations 'from their own practice, or if they prefer, from one of the new digital providers'.

Just days after the long-term plan was published, LIVI - a Swedish company that describes itself as 'Europe's largest video GP provider' - has announced that it has recruited NHS England chief digital officer Juliet Bauer.

Online consultation

Ms Bauer will take up a 'global product role' from April to help health services adopt a 'digital first approach to primary care'.

LIVI is already working with NHS organisations in parts of England to deliver online GP consultations. The company says 13,000 patients have signed up to use a service in north-west Surrey, set up in partnership with a GP federation, and estimates that 95% of video consultations it has delivered have replaced a face-to-face visit.

Ms Bauer said: 'I am delighted to be joining LIVI at such an exciting time for digital health. Technology has the power to deliver a step-change in clinical care and patient experience. I am looking forward to helping LIVI expand their outstanding service to deliver on the NHS’ long term plan, as well as supporting their growth globally.'

Digital first

GPonline reported last year that the government is considering an overhaul of the funding model for general practice to accommodate digital first services.

Health secretary Matt Hancock has repeatedly spoken out in favour of digital providers, attracting criticism for comments in support of the Babylon GP at Hand service.

Babylon GP at Hand has used out-of-area patient registration rules to attract thousands of predominantly young patients away from their existing GP practices to its digital first service.

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