Doctor, I’ve got an app on my smartphone!
The government is launching a new NHS mobile app to put patients in England in direct touch with their GP surgeries.
Booking appointments, requesting repeat prescriptions and to see your medical files, as well as signing up as an organ donor are all covered, as well as getting advice from NHS111.
With 70 years since the NHS was born, former Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt recently called the new app a “birthday present from the NHS to the British people.”
Testing is set to start in September and it should be available for download in December for both Android and Apple devices.
Patients can already use many of the app’s functions online but will now be able to access them via a smartphone, Hunt declared that for the NHS a “big change that is going to happen in the next decade is the technology revolution.”
He said that we will all have control over our own health, and become “expert patients”.
With `patients decrying the shortage of “expert doctors”, some are asking if this is a wise way for the government to spend money on health.
An existing service, ask my GP, already works with GP practices, and allows patients to contact their doctors to discover whether they actually need an appointment. And there are fears that easy access to appointments, without giving the GP relevant symptoms first, could increase already heavy workloads.
Without more GP capacity, inappropriate bookings on smartphones may mean time wasters getting seen while elderly or vulnerable patients suffer. We are told that only 30% of patients seeking help need a one to one appointment.
Jeremy Hunt’s view was that people may decide they don’t need an appointment after using the 111 service on the NHS app. He hopes GPs have more time to see patients with urgent needs.
However, one patient’s response to the new app was: “An app won’t change the situation where I wait weeks to see my GP.”