- North Londoners will see their access to NHS professionals boosted
- But they will only be given this if they have a small chance of seeing a doctor.
- The new service will be enhanced with AI to prioritize urgent cases
A health services initiative promises “same day access” to GPs, although patients have only a 1 in 15 chance of seeing a doctor.
Health officials said the plans, which affect around 2.8 million residents in north London, will boost access to medical professionals and improve care.
Patients who select “same day” when calling their GP will be directed to a new “centre”, where artificial intelligence will help prioritize the most urgent cases.
However, documents drawn up by the North West London Integrated Care Board suggest each center could be staffed by just one GP, with most of the work carried out by less qualified members of the team. The information pack, seen by Pulse magazine, suggests that of the 146 daily appointments, only ten would be attended by GPs.
The rest will be carried out by pharmacists, advanced nurse practitioners and controversial associate doctors who have only two years of medical training.
Health officials said the plans, which affect around 2.8 million residents in north London, will boost access to medical professionals and improve care (File image)
Officials said patients seeking same-day care may need to travel further to be seen or accept a remote appointment by phone or video (File image)
Officials said patients seeking same-day care may need to travel further to be seen or accept a remote appointment by phone or video.
A letter from London-wide medical committees, representing the capital’s GPs, raises concerns about patient safety associated with the central plan.
It warns the model will undermine “continuity of care” and suggests arrangements for one GP to supervise large numbers of other staff are “unsafe”.
Meanwhile, campaign group Save Our NHS Hammersmith And Fulham said the plans would “exclude GPs from almost all ‘same day’ GP care provision for more than 2 million people”. And Dennis Reed, of Silver Voices, a campaign group for over-60s, said he was worried such a move would end up “abandoning the GP system entirely”.
Dr Genevieve Small, Harrow GP and NHS Primary Care Medical Director for North West London, said: “Patients constantly tell us that getting an appointment with their GP can be difficult. We have developed a plan that will increase same-day access to GPs, community pharmacists and other primary care professionals for those patients who need it.
“This approach will be phased in across North West London from April 2024. It will ensure GPs have more time to proactively care for the patients who need their expertise most, including those with chronic illnesses.”
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, president of the Royal College of GPs, said GPs were open to ways to improve access, which could involve new centres.
But he added: “We are concerned about how this model could impact continuity of care, which research consistently shows is beneficial for both patients and the NHS.”