Video appointments now available in almost all Sussex GP practices

Almost all GP practices in Sussex are now capable of offering patients online video appointments, NHS England says.

Full online consultations are avialable at 77 per cent of practices - which NHS England said was the same as the number in April.

A programme to introduce the technology is part of the long-term plan for the NHS, but has been accelerated in response to Covid-19.

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Patients using the virtual appointments can book consultations with GPs, acquire prescriptions and receive referrals.

Doctor's surgeries are now offering video appointments. Picture: Getty Images

Sarah MacDonald, Director of Primary Care at NHS England and NHS Improvement, South East said: “Safe and secure video appointments are an important way for the NHS to ensure that it is still there for the people that need it during the coronavirus pandemic.

“As many people are becoming more confident with using video calls to chat with friends and family, this service has really taken off in primary care too.

“The many benefits for patients in terms of convenience and reduced travel mean that video appointment will continue to be there as an option for them in the future too.”

Melissa Ream, Artificial Intelligence Adviser for Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network and National AHSN said: “We knew we had to respond to coronavirus rapidly, and very quickly had an understanding of the size of the challenge with how many GP Practices needed support with infrastructure, training, resources and workforce needs, and we were able to address any barriers promptly.

“The number of video appointments has risen each month since the social distancing guidelines across the South East came into effect.

“Verified baseline data from the beginning of April showed video appointments were available in 89 per cent of GP practices in the South East. As of last week, 99 per cent of practices had video appointment capability.

“Bringing many different parts of the NHS together across the region, the NHS has delivered an objective planned for 2021 in just a couple of months.”

The NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Digital First Primary Care programme has been established as part of the Long-Term Plan for the NHS to offer “digital first primary care” to all patients.

An NHS spokesman said they handle more than 1 million patients every 36 hours, with over 1.5 million employees.

The aim is to continue online consultation services and support those struggling in the midst of a pandemic by supplying necessary recourses via contactless methods.