Commenting on the publication of NHS England’s Digital First Primary Care consultation and board papers, Nuffield Trust Senior Fellow Dr Rebecca Rosen said:
“NHS England are right to demand that new digitally based GP services add to staff in areas that are short of them. It’s a big improvement from the loose requirements set for earlier providers. There is some evidence that services delivering care remotely attract GPs back into work, and by steering them to the right place this could improve access to care in some of the most deprived parts of England.
“However, there are other issues to consider. People with complex health problems require an ongoing relationship with the same professionals to get the best outcomes and avoid onward referrals. This mustn’t get lost in the rush for quick digital access. The GP at Hand evaluation  also suggested that users of digital services were younger and generally healthier, so new providers will have to work differently if we are not to divert extra doctors to serving people who need them less.
“There has been impressive progress with the formation of primary care networks, with the whole country covered and a range of support measures in place. But the wide-ranging demands across building networks, improving quality, digital transformation and many other areas are a lot to ask of new bodies. They will need to be carefully staged so as not to overwhelm an already stretched workforce.”
“I was pleased to see the board paper’s recommitment to a sustained increase in funding for general practice and community care – this will provide a real boost to services that have been short changed for many years.”
1. Board papers for NHS England and Improvement’s joint board meeting are available here. The Digital First Primary Care policy document is out for consultation, and can be seen here. The Implementation Framework for the long term plan has also been published today, and we will consider a response to this.
2. Ipsos MORI’s evaluation of the GP at Hand service can be seen here: https://www.hammersmithfulhamccg.nhs.uk/media/156123/Evaluation-of-Babylon-GP-at-Hand-Final-Report.pdf
3. The Nuffield Trust is an independent health think tank. We aim to improve the quality of health care in the UK by providing evidence-based research and policy analysis and informing and generating debate.
4. For any queries or to arrange an interview, please contact Mark Dayan at email@example.com or 0207 462 0538.