GPS threaten court ac­tion against video con­sul­ta­tion app

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Henry Bod­kin

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.”

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