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Patients “to consult their GP by email”

25 January 2011

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Plans to free up GPs’ surgeries could see patients told to email their doctor and describe their symptoms, it has been reported.

Patients would be asked to electronically submit a description of their condition, which would be answered by doctors later in the day, under the system reportedly being considered by ministers.

Doctors would then advise their patients to attend an appointment or arrange a home visit only if they believed the symptoms were serious enough.

The proposals would require patients with long-term conditions such as heart failure or diabetes to monitor their own temperature, blood pressure or glucose levels before emailing the information to their GP.

The Telegraph reports that a pilot of the system has already been carried out in Dundee.

It saw some patients staying at home while describing potentially serious symptoms such as “frequent” chest palpitations and the inability to sleep due to “acute sickness” and shaking.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Department of Health

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

We have been using email consultations for several years now. Those patients who use this system are very appreciative of it. The doctors feel it is a useful way of providing advice etc, without (necessarily) needing a consultation. All emails also come to me (PM) so that I can respond/redirect if a GP is on annual leave.

 Sue Johnson, North Oxfordshire

Lets do away with GP Surgeries all together and have GP’s responding via text/twitter/email and Facebook to every sniffle,cough and internet induced paranoia. That way we could work 24 hours a day and the ‘public’ can ensure they are never inconvenienced and they can continue their very
important jobs without ever having the need to attend the surgery. If they need an examination we can do a home/work/hotel/school/gym/pub visit.

M Read, London

No, I think this is a bad bad idea. If a person is sick they need to be
examined by the doctor. Plus the person is not a doctor themselves. How
would the doctor know how really sick they are by email without seeing

Denise, London

Potentially a nightmare waiting to happen.The worried well will swamp the system and the potential for missed diagnosis or patients under or over reporting symptoms will result in the clinicians time being wasted. Also the time wasted in reading and responding to e-mails will far outweigh the
benefits. Face to face consultations and the opportunity to educate patients with regard to their symptoms cannot be replaced with virtual interaction not to speak of the medico-legal implications.

John Brett, Walsall

What is the medico-legal position of email consultations? is this any quicker
than face to face? If positive answers to both I would push this idea

Russell, Essex

Not until I could guaranty the security of the patient’s confidentiality.

Wendy Ribbands, Bradford West Yorkshire