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Readers panel: Are smartphone consultations a threat to traditional GP services?

A 24-hour service offering GP consultations via video link or smartphones has been launched for NHS patients in greater London. Nursing Standard readers have their say

A 24-hour service offering GP consultations via video link or smartphones has been launched for NHS patients in greater London. Nursing Standard readers have their say


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Stephanie Cumming is a practice nurse and trainee advanced nurse practitioner in Warwickshire 

There is a desperate need to reduce pressure on traditional GP services, and I welcome initiatives to achieve this. But I am concerned that the introduction of smartphone consultations is simply papering over the cracks, and some patients, such as older people who may not be able to use this technology, will be discriminated against. With telephone or video consultations, there is also the risk that clinicians may not pick up on subtle nuances in the same way as in face-to-face consultations.

 

Rachel Kent is a mental health nurse in London

There will always be a need for GPs to see patients in person for examinations. Video consultations, no matter how good the quality of image, cannot replace face-to-face care. However, I do see a role for this type of technology, such as when discussing or changing prescriptions, if patients need a fit note, or if they need to speak to a doctor but are contagious. By freeing up surgeries for patients who need to see the GP in person, this service could help surgeries rather than replace them if used correctly.

 

Drew Payne is a community staff nurse in north London
@drew_london 

Although this could enhance out-of-hours GP services, it is no substitute for face-to-face GP consultations. Using this model, the GP cannot perform the simplest of physical examinations, and it excludes patients with certain conditions, which should be unacceptable in today’s NHS. New technology has its place in healthcare and can be used to enhance our work, but it cannot and should not be used to replace health professionals. I fear this will be seen as a GP consultation on the cheap.

 

Liz Charalambous is a staff nurse and PhD student in Nottingham 
@lizcharalambou

There is no doubt that the NHS needs a radical overhaul, but in the rush to deliver healthcare services in the current climate I fear this could create a postcode lottery. Also, some people do not have access to smartphone technology, or the skills required to use it. Homeless people, for example, or those with learning difficulties or mental health problems could be left behind. And considering the recent NHS cyber attack, is the IT infrastructure for this fit for purpose?


Readers panel members give their views in a personal capacity only 
 

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