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Virtual interaction could create a “new NHS”

6 January 2015

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Virtual interaction needs to be embraced as it will soon be the “default assumption” in the future of GP surgeries, the head of the NHS has claimed.

Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England said new cities and developments will introduce a new “virtual health service.” This would mean that while there would be fewer GPs in surgeries, patients could instantly access doctors and medical services by Skype.

Speaking to The Telegraph, he said that for those in their teens, 20s and 30s, “the idea of booking appointments and physically turning up to GP surgeries for routine things is an alien concept”.  

Rather than registering with a family doctor, patients would sign up to a “virtual primary care service” and rather than book an appointment would “just be able to call up a doctor or a nurse on [their] iPhone and have the face-to-face interaction there”.

Others would be able to communicate with medical staff through their television or by Skype.

Stevens suggested new towns such as Ebbsfleet in Kent, future developments and existing “high growth areas” such as Swindon in Wiltshire and Tower Hamlets in east London could form the first generation of “health service new towns” which rely predominantly on such technology to shape a different NHS.

He said a new funding formula will see additional resources channeled to places where the population is growing fastest.