Video chats with our doctor could be the future if West Cheshire GPs win a slice of £50m Government funding.
The Prime Minister’s Challenge Fund will set up at least nine pilots across England to support the spread of innovation.
This could mean more flexible opening hours at GP surgeries but also greater use of technology which could eventually lead to Skype consultations for patients.
The outcome of the cash bid by 31 local surgeries will be known later this month and West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group will match-fund the project or work alone if the application is unsuccessful.
Dr Huw Charles-Jones, chairman of the West Cheshire CCG and a Lache GP, said: “The whole NHS is changing to get care out of hospitals more into the community, so general practice has to respond to that.”
He added: “In my own practice group, we use web-based booking for appointments, people order repeat prescriptions on email – so using the practice website as a portal into the practice.
“Over the past few years there’s been a growing use of phone consultations. If you talk to some patients they find it a bit difficult because if you’re working as a teacher or on a production line so you can’t take that call back very easily.
“But a lot of people quite like the fact they can phone up their GP, get it sorted out, if they don’t actually need a face-to face consultation.
“And then there are some of the even newer technologies that are used, things like using Skype consultations.
“We are seeing with community nurses, who may be going to see a patient with a leg ulcer and they want an opinion on it.
“It’s really good to be able to use the mobile technology and get an opinion that way. There are one or two places in the country where they are actually having Skype consultations with the GP.
“I think certainly in Chester that would be some way off at the moment but at some point we’d like to think we could go down that route.”
Chief officer Alison Lee added: “You’ve got the older demographic, but even people like that are getting into iPads and other technology and there’s potential, but most of the older people we talk to still want that face-to-face consultation with their GP.
“But then you get right to the younger generation who won’t even know who their GP is any more. They are going to want that more instant access through the mobile devices we all use.”