England’s health service commits £45m to online consultations

England’s National Health Service is to invest £45 million into expanding online primary care consultations starting from April 2017.

The money is part of a package of measures unveiled today, the GP Forward View, a 2.4 billion plan for General Practice services up to 2020/21. The new funding is necessary because of the huge pressure the frontline service is under, with a growing shortfall of general practitioners to meet the increasing demand from patients.

The Government’s commitments include developing online consultations among broader investments in digital technology adoption across GP practices as a whole.

  • A £45 million national programme to stimulate the uptake of online consultations systems for every practice
  • An increase of over 18% in allocations to CCGs for the provision of IT services and technology for GPs
  • Online access to accredited clinical triage systems for patients
  • The development of an approved apps library to aid both clinicians and patients
  • Achieving a paperless NHS by 2020
  • Online self-care and self-management services for patients
  • Improving collaboration between practices through full interoperability across IT systems
  • Wi-Fi integration in GP practices for staff and patients
  • A nationally accredited catalogue and buying framework for IT products and services with a network of local procurement advice and guidance hubs
  • Creating a wider and more innovative digital service choice for GPs through collaboration with the supplier market
  • Completion of the access to summary care record to community pharmacy rollout by March 2017


Some of these objectives fall under specific funding schemes. The £30 million ‘Releasing Time for Patients’ programme will cover the online provision of clinical triage systems to patients and the building of an apps library for example, whereas the £500 million ‘Sustainability and Transformation’ package intends to encourage a greater use of technology across practices as a whole.

A new ‘Estates and Technology Transformation Programme’ will also be launched to help doctors expand their technology resources, whilst plans exist to create a national framework for e-consultation tool purchasing by December 2017.

Non-specified funding will also be given to provide teaching to both patients and clinicians for the use of digital services from December 2017, and the creation of a new automated appointment software is slated for April 2017.

The Government’s current target for patient use of online services for the end of 2016 is at least 10% which sits alongside the longer-term goal of ensuring all incoming correspondence from other NHS providers is electronic by 2020.

To read to full report, click here.

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