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


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

NHS logo on tiled wall

Draft NICE guidance on self-harm updates advice for GPs

Draft NICE guidance calls for patients to receive urgent psychosocial assessment...

GP looking tired

'Running on empty': one in four GPs warn extreme tiredness is affecting patient care

A quarter of GPs say they are regularly sleep deprived at work, while the same proportion...

Syringe extracting COVID-19 vaccine from vial

Thousands of unvaccinated GP staff face dismissal notice from February

Thousands of unvaccinated staff at GP practices could be handed their notice from...

MDU chief executive Dr Matthew Lee

Viewpoint: Tired and overworked GPs need better support

A recent survey has shown that many GPs are burnt out and exhausted. Urgent action...

Pins marking points on a map

Map: Which parts of England have the fastest-rising demand for GP appointments?

GP practices faced a massive increase in workload through 2021 as demand for appointments...

Sign pointing to entrance of COVID-19 vaccination hub

GPs partners subsidising COVID-19 vaccine campaign as bookings drop, GPs warn

GP practices running COVID-19 vaccine clinics may soon be forced to 'chuck in the...