CEO and Founder of Now GP’s holding company Now Healthcare Group, Lee Dentith, discusses the GPC’s ambitions to limit the number of consultations GPs can have daily and how mHealth can be used to alleviate the strain placed on our doctors.

lee-headshot

As the government puts the finishing touches to its “roadmap for general practice,” the General Practitioners Committee (GPC) last week called for a maximum limit of consultations to be imposed, ensuring that GPs only see a certain number of patients per day. This proposal comes in an effort to reduce GP workload, allow the quality of care being delivered to still be at the required standard and to solve the ongoing recruitment crisis.

The document has been put together by the GPC based on feedback from local GP leaders at January’s Special LMC Conference. Although a number of possible improvements to the health service have been proposed, the most intriguing is undoubtedly the suggestion that NHS England should set “a national standard for a maximum number of patients that GPs, nurses and other primary care professionals can reasonably deal with during a working day to maintain delivery of a safe and high quality service.”

While this will obviously provide doctors with much-needed relief and a more manageable and safe schedule, what happens to those patients who miss out once the appointment quota has been reached?

It has been suggested that commissioners should “establish locality hubs to which practices can refer urgent patients when they have reached the capacity threshold for safe care on any given day.” While this could potentially be quite effective, it does nothing to aid the convenience of healthcare for patients, and raises questions about who will actually be recruited to man these locality hubs.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul is the chair of the GPC. He said that this important document “brings together practical and deliverable ideas from GPs and sets out a comprehensive, positive and practical approach which, if adopted, would make a significant difference to both practices and patients.”

It’s certainly encouraging to see the GPC acknowledge the issues and concerns of our doctors, but I do fear that we’re overlooking a much simpler solution for patients and practitioners in the form of mHealth. While the GPC has stated that it will look to “maximise the potential of technology,” it’s clear that mHealth has a starring role to play in terms of stabilising the way the healthcare system works.

Rather than refer patients to locality hubs once their local surgery quota has been reached, why not provide them with access to a GP remotely instead? Face to face consultations via video call provide patients with healthcare access whenever they need it, with endless benefits over traditional out of hours telephone helpline services. Given that our services are able to diagnose patients and arrange for medicine delivery, mHealth makes a physical GP visit unnecessary in the majority of cases.

It’s not just patients who would benefit from an mHealth solution either – our Now GP / Now GP product embraces flexible working hours for doctors, allowing GPs to work as much or as little as they wish. It brings added convenience for both doctors and patients, and doesn’t see patients turned away from their surgery and told there is no more room for appointments on that day – it’s a reliable service designed to bring convenience back to healthcare and fit the needs of today’s on the go society.

We want to help the NHS adapt and manage this ‘bottleneck’ which sees more and more people in the UK struggle to get appointments. The Now Healthcare Group vision is, and has always been, to provide a convenient healthcare solution which works for everyone and alleviates the strain on our health system, reduces the pressure that doctors are under and provides patients with access to a professional medical opinion whenever they need one. For more information, please get in touch with our team today.


You can read more of my thoughts on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter.