Government target missed for online GP services.
Patients unable to book a slot with doctor on internet
GP surgeries across Scotland are failing to hit a government target for patients accessing services online.
Only a quarter of practices in Tayside allow appointments to be booked on the internet, which is one of the lowest in the country, according to figures compiled by a think-tank. Reform Scotland said “too few” patients are given the opportunity to use the internet for things such as ordering repeat prescriptions.
Miles Briggs, for the Scottish Conservatives, said the web offers “great potential to save time and resources in our under-pressure GP surgeries” and called on the SNP to do more.
While only 25% of Tayside surgeries permit booking online, 91% allowed repeat orders of prescriptions, according to data obtained from health boards. In Fife, 72% of practices offered online services in those categories. The Scottish Government has demanded 90% of surgeries do so by the end of the year.
But one Dundee GP has warned that online bookings are “not always a good thing”. Dr Andrew Cowie, who is chairman of the area clinical forum in Tayside, said an online system does not allow staff to assess which patients need to be seen ahead of others.
“It means that people can book up large numbers of appointments that aren’t necessary and then there are fewer left for more important problems,” he added.
Dr Miles Mack, from the Royal College of GPs in Scotland, said the profession is “keen to embrace new technologies” but added online services “may not necessarily be the priority for practices operating under strain”.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said they are spending an extra £500m a year by 2021/22 to “transform primary care”.
“That transformation will be supported by the latest technology, including offering more services online.”
The yeb offers great potential to save time and resources in our underpressure GP surgeries.
A doctor takes a woman’s blood pressure during a check-up.