Nearly 4,000 patients across the West London borough of Kensington and Chelsea can now benefit from a text-based GP messaging service as demand on family doctors is set to soar with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
West London’s Exmoor Surgery has partnered with GP remote messaging service Docly in a bid to increase patient choice. Those seeking advice from their GP now have the option of receiving a same-day consultation by text-based messaging, without the need for a face-to-face appointment.
The move comes as lockdown restrictions ease across England, provoking an expected increase in demand for GP services as social distancing measures relax.
Digital healthcare services can help to ease the burden on primary care by allowing GPs to better manage their workload as demand increases. Remote GP messaging services, such as Docly, create additional capacity for doctors to treat patients, preventing a feared backlog in patient care.
Estimates suggest more than eight million people could be waiting for hospital care in England by autumn – double the number waiting in February 2020. GP appointments are currently down, with official figures showing a 33 percent decrease in appointments in April 2020 compared to 2019, with face-to-face appointments in particular being down by 60 percent.
Commenting on the partnership Dr Oisin Brannick, lead GP partner at the Exmoor Surgery, said:
“Our partnership with Docly allows our patients to get same-day GP consultations without having to set foot outside their front door. Crucially, this means that patients do not come into the surgery and ensures that they are able to maintain appropriate social distancing for their own safety, but they can still access the medical care they need safely and quickly.
“We are telling patients wherever possible for both routine conditions, or where they suspect early coronavirus symptoms to contact Docly – our digital GP partner – or NHS 111.”
Dr Caroline Pilot, GP and Docly’s Chief Medical Officer, added:
“We are geared up to help the NHS and GP practices with the anticipated increase in demand for remote GP services as lockdown restrictions ease.
“At Docly, we have seen a 22 percent increase in patient registrations since the lockdown began on 23 March, and I think a large proportion of those are coming to us because of raised fears around coronavirus.
“Message-based consultations are – in our own experience and in that of our patients’ – preferable, more convenient, and much more efficient for clinicians and patients alike than face-to-face appointments.
“We strongly believe both patients and clinicians will have seen the benefits of managing care digitally and will be reluctant to return to face-to-face care unless absolutely essential.”
Docly is free to all NHS patients registered with a GP surgery partnered with the text-based GP service.
Patients can have a written message-based conversation with a GP without the need for an appointment. Docly offers same-day consultations, repeat prescriptions, advice and treatment – from anywhere, at home and all at the speed of a text message.
Patients registered at participating GP practices can download the Docly app from the App Store (iPhone) or Google Play (Android) or visit www.docly.co.uk.