Skype consultations should be as common as stethoscopes, says GP leader

Skype consultations should be as integral to general practice as stethoscopes and should become 'the norm' for seeing patients in the future, leading GP Sir Sam Everington has said.

Sir Sam Everington
Sir Sam Everington

GPs should embrace new technologies and readily use internet video software to assess patients, Tower Hamlets CCG chairman Sir Sam has suggested.

The proposal comes as research published in May in the British Journal of General Practice (BJGP) found there was a ‘general reluctance’ among the profession to move away from face-to-face appointments.

Speaking at a keynote event during the Health+Care conference in London on Thursday, Sir Sam identified greater use of internet video tools such as Skype as essential to the future of general practice.

When posed a question asking how the NHS could move forward, he said: ‘Skype appointments are the stethoscopes of modern medicine and should become the norm.’

GP consultation

He added that the payments by activity used in hospitals ‘should be scrapped now’. GPs have hotly debated whether such a system should be adopted in general practice to properly recognise the work they do – and LMCs have voted in favour of implementing such a system.

GP Professor Chris Salisbury, author of the BJGP study, said GPs need to see more evidence of the advantages before adopting wider use of internet video for consultations.

The study, which encompassed 319 practices across the UK, found that none were making use of internet video programs to conduct consultations, and none had any plans to do so.

Professor Salisbury said: ‘The general reluctance to adopt alternatives to face-to-face consultations means the situation is unlikely to change soon unless general practices can see clear advantages from introducing new ways of consulting.’

See Sir Sam Everington speak at the RCGP Annual Conference in Harrogate this year, running from 6-8 October. View the full programme here.

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