NHS medical director urges GPs to use Skype for consultations

Consultations may be held online to improve patient access to GP services, according to the NHS medical director.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh said online tools such as Skype could give patients convenient access to their GP at any time.

His comments came at the launch of a call for health professionals to submit ideas for smartphone health ‘apps’, held in London last week.

Speaking to The Times afterwards, Sir Bruce said he was investigating how online consultations could work in the NHS.

‘I am looking at how we can put levers into the system to encourage doctors to do online consultations,’ he said.

‘Once you have online consultations, it breaks down geographical boundaries. It opens up the spectre of 24/7 access.’

Sir Bruce told GP last month the NHS must do more to integrate cost-saving technology into the service.

‘There is technology in general, which we have been quite good in the NHS at using, if it’s affordable, to drive up the quality of care.

‘What we don’t do - our mindset isn’t quite in the right place [to consider] – how can we also use it to drive costs down? All other industries when they look at technology, one of the first questions they ask is does it improve quality and does it lower costs?’

He said some GPs already offer consultations via Skype and may interest many others. ‘Then I find myself thinking that’s the sort of thing that will appeal to some people. It would appeal to me,’ he said.

He argued it would be much more convenient for patients and GPs.

‘In a world where immediacy and convenience influence how people perceive the quality of a service, you can see how that kind of thing might catch on.’

A GMC spokeswoman said existing guidance stated that doctors must ensure patient information is not disclosed in public, for example, in an open internet chat forum.

But there are no specific rules about private online video conferencing at present.

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

Woman holding face in pain

Should GPs treat patients presenting with dental problems?

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask considers what GPs should do if a patient presents with...

Conservative Party leadership candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss

Liz Truss vows to resolve GP pension tax crisis if she becomes prime minister

Liz Truss has affirmed her commitment to resolving the GP pensions crisis but has...

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh

JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change...

GP consultation

General practice delivering 'up to double the appointments it is paid for'

General practice in England may be delivering as many as double the number of appointments...

Sign outside BMA House

GP suicide sparks calls for measures to protect doctors from spiralling workloads

The government and policymakers must do more to safeguard doctors and NHS staff from...

Talking General Practice logo

Podcast: Living with long COVID

In August we’re bringing you some of the best interviews from series one of the podcast....