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NHS England claims success for online GP services



Latest data shows a massive increase in patients’ ability to book appointments and order repeat prescriptions online

THE drive to enable patients to book GP appointments and order repeat prescriptions online has been declared a success by NHS England.

It has announced that almost every GP surgery in England is now offering the service – as well as digital access to summary information in patients’ medical records – according to data provided by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

It means that more than 55 million patients – 97% of the total – can take advantage of online services, an increase from just 3% in April 2014.

To encourage the remaining 3% to sign up, NHS England is urging those patients to ask their GP surgery to set up their online access next time they visit. But it is also emphasising that patients will still be able to contact their GP practice by phone or in person if they prefer.

Patient control

Beverley Bryant, the organisation’s director of digital technology, said: “Many patients want the flexibility of booking services online, so we are delighted that GPs have worked so hard to make this possible. There is more to come as we develop services that will increasingly help patients take more control of their health.”

The success rate means Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt all but achieved his pledge to allow all patients to book appointments and repeat prescriptions online by March this year.

NHS England has previously announced plans to much further, pledging that patients will enjoy digital access to their records across the NHS, rather than simply through GPs. Under those plans, by 2018 everyone would be able to view their health history with hospitals, social care, community and mental health services.

Details of every visit, prescription, test result, adverse reaction and allergies to drugs will be available online “at the click of a button”, NHS England said a year ago

Patients would also be able to record their preferences and comments, alongside their official medical notes.

In addition, the digitisation of the personal child health record - the “red book” - will offer new parents personalised mobile care records for their children from 2016.

Real time data

The plans also include providing real time data to paramedics, doctors and nurses, to ensure patients receive safe and effective support at the point of care.

All NHS funded care services are expected to have digital and interoperable systems that “remove the limitations of paper records and slow bureaucratic systems” by 2020.

Approved smartphone apps will carry NHS ‘kitemarks’ to improve trust, with the overall aim that “patients will only have to tell their story once”.

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