BMA critical of decision to allow GP at Hand expansion

By agency reporter
February 14, 2019

Responding to the joint agreement between NHS England, Hammersmith and Fulham CCG, and Birmingham and Solihull CCG, to allow Babylon’s GP at Hand service to expand its service to Birmingham, Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: “We are incredibly disappointed with this decision, which is not only premature, but flies in the face of place-based care delivered by practices embedded in local communities, which the recent changes in the GP contract are committed to deliver.

“The independent evaluation into GP at Hand is yet to publish its findings, so it is wholly inappropriate to allow this service’s expansion with no assurances over its safety and effectiveness.

“The well-documented problems that GP at Hand patients have experienced in London, as well as the disruption it has caused to local funding arrangements, will likely only be replicated in new cities if the service is rolled out there. 

“Following this decision, NHS England must make it their priority – as promised in the GP contract agreement – to complete its review into the out of area arrangements that GP at Hand has exploited for too long.

“The Secretary of State has been clear in his ambitions for tech and the NHS, and equally, GPs would like to offer video consultations to their own patients. These patients would benefit far more from being seen by a doctor close by and with a full understanding of their medical history, rather than someone miles away from their home. But to make this a reality, there must be investment in practice IT infrastructure – including improved broadband capability in surgeries – to create a level playing field with private companies such as Babylon.”

* British Medical Association https://www.bma.org.uk/

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