In a bid to cut waiting times, three practices in the UK are offering consultations by webcam.
After downloading an app, patients can log on at an allocated time and speak to a GP using the camera built into their phone, tablet or laptop.
The appointments will be conducted by private GPs and are funded by the NHS.
Richard Vautrey, committee member of the British Medical Association, is sceptical: “Private GPs cannot for example access full medical records which is crucial in assessing the advice that should be given to an individual if the issue is serious.”
He continued to warn that surgeries should be wary as any blunders caused by webcam diagnosis may not be covered on their insurance.
One firm running the trial in Essex, Push Doctor, said that 70 per cent of patients who used the webcam appointment decided they didn’t need a face-to-face appointment with their GP after all.
There are concerns surrounding patient safety. Katherine Murphy from the Patients Association told the Mail Online: “We are most troubled about the consequences this could have on safety. If the private providers do not have access to medical records, then we are naturally suspicious of how an accurate diagnosis can be made without these important details. Outsourcing to a private firm is most certainly not a solution that most patients and the public feel comfortable with.”
Waiting times to see a GP are at their highest on record and surgeries are struggling to meet demands.
The latest NHS figures show that up to half of patients cannot get an appointment within two days and many are having to wait up to three weeks.
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