My role


The online future of the NHS

Would you like an email consulation with your GP?

The Daily Mail is reporting on this idea with concern in Patients are told not to come to surgery, instead describe symptoms online. The paper reports on a pilot involving 6,000 patients with long-term illnesses such as heart failure and diabetes and a report by the think tank 2020Health, which, says the Mail 'has been seen by ministers, estimates that the NHS could save £1billion a year if those with certain long-term conditions are encouraged to manage their illness at home rather than visiting a GP several times a month'. The paper also reports the concerns of the BMA and the Patients Association.

The BMA believe it would be only a matter of time before a serious illness was missed. Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of its GP committee, said: ‘My worry is that the patient won’t realise the severity of their disease and neither will the doctor as it won’t have been conveyed in the message.'

But the preparation for this sort of thing is already being put in place online. The so far little-publicised Health Space inititive provides what the government call 'a free, secure online personal health organiser'. You can keep all your medical records online here and book and record appointments.

Some GPs already allow for online bookings and some even allow patients to email their doctors.

What do you think? Tell us in the latest snap survey.

Page created on January 24th, 2011

Page updated on January 25th, 2011


Emailing Doctors

I have been trying to persuade my Doctor to use email for years!

In particular to order repeat prescriptions

Bring it on!

Andrew Colman


please god will doctors get with the times the only way to communicate is through email. people are really worried out there and just being able to send an email to a doctor makes them feel a hell of a lot better, i cant email my doctor its an impossibility, i am soo frustrated by this as i myself am worried about something only a doctor would know about, please nhs get your doctors emailing,

emailing GP's

I can see why outwardly it seems a good idea, but on balance I would steer clear. There is Dr. Buckman's point about something serious being missed. Our surgery tries to let you talk to the doc on the phone . This isn't bad because your voice, manner and what you say can give the doctor clues as to whether he actually needs to get you in and have a look at you. Doubt this would happen reading lots of badly written emails. Also, I think it's unworkable from a time point of view. Most practises are over-subscribed and doctors don't get through everything as it is. Do we really want to make this worse? It's so easy for dubious types to plonk themselves in front of a keyboard and email any old thing - and then expect an answer. I'm not usually in such defence of medics (have seen some good, but a lot of bad), but I would protect them on this one. When their time is at such a premium, this would be crazy.

I would like to point out

I would like to point out that sometimes a person might want help with something that a GP cannot himself help with. For example, I'm currently suffering with depression (the clinical version rather than simply feeling a little down in the dumps), and genuinely need professional help. My GP could probably handle this case via email and get me in touch with a psychiatrist/counsellor, but the way things stand, I need to arrange an appointment, which isn't easy given my irregular working hours, and given that my time spent seeing the doctor is time where, if I would have a shift at that time, I'm not getting paid.