GPS threaten court action against video consultation app
FAMILY GPS have threatened court action to prevent a newly launched smartphone video consultation service from going ahead.
Delegates at the British Medical Association’s annual GP’S conference said the new GP at Hand service, which offers remote appointments within two hours, risked “favouring the well above the ill”.
Run by Babylon, a technology company, the service became available to millions of patients in London on Monday and will soon extend across the country.
The firm encourages patients to switch from their GP surgery, which critics said risked “cherry-picking” the most healthy while depriving practices of money needed to care for those with more complex illnesses.
Last night, the BMA conference criticised the use of public money “to promote inequitable access to NHS branded services” and threatened a judicial review to thwart the new scheme.
Dr Susie Bayley warned: “A service that favours the well above the ill is morally questionable. This will lead to huge inequity.”
With the backing of NHS leaders, increasing numbers of GP surgeries are being encouraged to provide more remote consultations. However, family doctors believe the initiatives often increase doctors’ workloads because many patients remotely consulted are then invited in for a face-to-face appointment.
Adopting online consultation is currently voluntary and a matter for individual practices.
“It’s quite a sexy new area of medicine and seems to be flavour of the month, but perhaps access for people who are really sick is more important than providing instant advice for those who have a cough or a cold,” said Dr Naomi Beer, an east
‘A younger, generally more healthy population are going to use this’
London GP, who successfully led a separate motion expressing concern about “the creeping coercion” on GPS to consult online.
“A younger, generally more healthy population are going to use this.”
The BMA said: “It is important that any new system of registering patients does not damage the financial stability of GP practices and delivers safe, effective care on an equal basis for all patients.
“This motion reflects the need for greater clarity.”