The New GP Service Could Put An End To ‘8 A.M. SCRAMBLE’
Experts have proposed a “rescue package” for patients to end the scramble to book GP appointments at 8 a.m. NHS Gateway, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), would be rolled out across GP surgeries and NHS 111.
A report from the think-tank Policy Exchange argues that there is a need to improve connectivity to GPs by offering a “first contact” service integrated with the NHS app. Users would be able to book appointments and check symptoms via the gateway. Currently, 86 percent of bookings are booked through calls to GP practices at 8 a.m., according to the study.
The system would ask for symptoms, and people could order at-home blood tests and kits, such as for UTI (urinary tract infections), which account for up to 10 million GP visits a year.
According to the report, NHS Gateway would also be a portal for NHS-approved health apps for managing mental health and other chronic illnesses such as musculoskeletal pain (which accounts for 30 percent of GP consultations).
The service will allow patients to manage their bookings and request “high-quality video consultations” with anyone other than a GP, including community pharmacists. The experts said that the NHS Gateway would be driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify at-risk patients and monitor public health trends in the long run.
According to the report, the current GP model is too variable and results in “unacceptable levels of unmet requirements, necessitating an approach which provides greater consistency and coherence to the “front door.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid wrote the report’s introduction. He said that the future of primary care is exciting, and we need to think deeply about how services are designed and planned, not just in general practices but also in pharmacy and dentistry.”
We must give the frontline providers the right tools to evolve to meet the needs of patients in the future if we are to provide a 21st-century offer to patients.”
As Dr. Sean Phillips, the report’s lead author, explained: “General practice has been under growing pressure for years, but the current situation isn’t sustainable.”
Patients are dissatisfied with the level of care provided by their doctors, although they are doing their best. Rather than just demanding that stretched general practitioners work harder, we need to find more brilliant work methods.
By expanding high-quality digital health services, such as video consultation, we can ‘level up’ areas that do not have enough GPs, enabling them to conduct more face-to-face appointments, particularly with those with complex needs.
By maximizing the use of the NHS app, we can reduce missed GP appointments, which costs the NHS £216 million every year, and signpost patients to the right services for their needs.
It is not entirely sure when or if this new system will be implemented. NHS England announced earlier this week that it would change the GP contract to allow patients to see a doctor on Saturdays and in the evenings.
According to the new plans, GP appointments will be available until 8 p.m. on weekdays and until 5 p.m. on Saturdays, drawing criticism from the British Medical Association (BMA) and many other associations.