Could online consultations transform GP services?


How would you like to consult your GP via Skype?

Or have an online consultation with a surgeon 30 miles away in one of our specialist hospitals, saving money and travel time?

These are just some of the new ideas that are up for discussion at a public meeting in Buckingham next week, aimed at helping shape healthcare services for the future.

The NHS Aylesbury Vale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is encouraging people to have their say on ways to improve primary healthcare services at a meeting on Wednesday, November 26, at the Buckingham Centre.

These services include GPs (and GP out of hours, high street pharmacies and community services.

The meeting, which will run from 6pm to 8.30pm in the large hall, will be chaired by Little Horwood resident Frank Donlon, who is a patient representative on the CCG locality group.

The first item on the agenda is ‘Developing a primary care strategy’, and suggestions from the public for ways to improve services will be welcomed – including the use of new technology.

Mr Donlon said: “With the NHS, nothing is ever new. Somebody somewhere is already doing it.

“If someone could pop into the Buckingham Hospital and do an online consultation with a surgeon in one of the acute hospitals, it’s perfectly possible.

“It all comes under the umbrella of tele-medicine.

“It’s already happening, for example, in rural Scotland.

“You can’t do a brain scan but, for example, dermatology has long been done like that, where a nurse can take a photograph or hold a camera.

“Follow-up consultations absolutely lend themselves to that sort of thing.

“Why not Skype your GP? And again, it does happen in some places.”

Also on the agenda is the redesign of the GP out-of-hours service.

The existing contract with Bucks Urgent Care, a group of GPs led by Buckingham doctor Jonathan Pryse, is due to come to an end in the next few months.

There will also be presentations on plans for better supporting over-75s and on the CCG’s appointment of a Milton Keynes discharge co-ordinator, known as Buckingham Ben, who has proved a real success story, reducing patient stays at Milton Keynes Hospital by smoothing their discharge into the Buckingham area.

Dr Malcolm Jones, of Aylesbury Vale CCG, said: “Effective and high-quality primary care is a priority for us. It is essential for people to be able to live well at home and, when it is in their best interest, to avoid admission to hospital.

“It is also important to enable more services to be delivered out of hospital, particularly for the frail elderly and people with multiple long term conditions.

“By redesigning primary care we will be able to meet these challenges.”

Do you have any opinion on the suggestion patients should have Skype appointments with their doctor?

Email the editor Roger Hawes