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Friday 19 July 2019
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Nearly all patients reject registering with digital-first GP services, survey finds

The vast majority of patients do not want to register with a digital-first GP service, according to a survey by independent consumer body Which?.

The vast majority of patients do not want to register with a digital-first GP service, according to a survey by independent consumer body Which?.
 
The survey, of over 1,500 people, found 96% were unlikely to switch from their current practice to an online service in the next year.
 
Over half (52%) said they will definitely not change from their current GP, it reported.
 
The NHS long-term plan pledged to offer every patient in England the right to choose ‘digital-first’ primary care over the next five years.
 
But, almost a quarter of respondents to the survey (23%) felt GP consultations should only be done face-to-face, while 70% said online GPs should only be used in specific situations, such as simple consultations or out-of-hours care.
 
The survey also asked how concerned people were about different aspects of online GP services.
 
It found respondents were most concerned about triage being done by an artificial intelligence chat-bot before being able to consult a human GP (72%), and about not knowing who the GP was (71%).
 
These concerns were closely followed by the privacy of patient information (69%), what would happen if a referral to a physical doctor or specialist was needed (66%), and technology glitches (66%).
 
Under the long-term plan, digital GP services will usually be offered through existing practices, but patients will also have the option of using digital-first providers, such as the controversial Babylon GP at Hand.
 
The push towards digital providers follows claims by health secretary Matt Hancock that such services improve patient access to services by ‘taking pressure off the NHS’.
 
Mr Hancock was recently criticised for praising Babylon in a newspaper article carrying their branding - and GP leaders warned they cannot have confidence in him if he continues to support the provider.
 
This story was originally published on our sister publication Pulse