Portsmouth patients to have access to online support service from GPs

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GP PRACTICES in Portsmouth will be brought ‘into the 21st century’ after agreeing to start looking at online consultations for patients.

Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group’s primary care commissioning committee agreed to sign up to a Hampshire-wide plan for the online service.

We need our GP practices to be moving into the 21st Century.

Michelle Spandley

It will see patients in the city able to use 24/7 online resources.

Surgeries in Gosport and Fareham already have online consultations and it has saved more than 500 GP hours.

But in Portsmouth, only two practices currently have the service.

Speaking at the meeting Innes Richens, chief of health and care Portsmouth, said: ‘We need to embrace this service and it makes sense for us to join the wider plan.’

Michelle Spandley, chief finance officer of Portsmouth CCG, added: ‘We need our GP practices to be moving into the 21st century.’

The government is encouraging practices to use an online service by allocating funds as part of the General Practice Forward View. Over the next two years, Portsmouth will receive £135,038 contribution costs towards the service but the committee agreed to pool this money with other CCGs as part of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

As previously reported, the STP is outlining the next five years of healthcare in Hampshire and how organisations will work to achieve the funding.

Terri Russell, deputy director of primary care, said Portsmouth would get a better deal if it agreed to an STP-wide procurement process led by North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG.

‘This idea for GPs to use online consultations is part of the STP,’ she said. ‘It makes sense to do it across a wider patch and have our GPs using the same service. This money is ring-fenced for this particular project so if we don’t spend it, we lose it.’

In a report presented to the committee, it said a pilot scheme saved 400 GP hours and 18 per cent of patients went on to self-manage their illness.

It also found when GPs did see patients they had a history of the illness, making the appointment quicker.

Dr Jonathan Lake, clinical executive, is a GP at Sunnyside Medical Centre – one of two practices in Portsmouth with an online service.

He said: ‘For it to work effectively it needs to be bigger than one practice.

‘The uptake of online technology is slow in primary care and it isn’t part of the culture but it needs to be because there are benefits.’