12 March 2019 – Last week, the British Social Attitudes poll revealed that public satisfaction with the NHS is at an 11-year low, with only 53% satisfied with how the NHS is run. For GP services, 63% said they were satisfied, which is the lowest approval figure ever for GP services since the survey began in 1983.
I appeared on BBC Radio London last week to discuss these survey results and why patients are so dissatisfied with GP services. Lengthy wait times for appointments and staff shortages are key reasons. For GPs, they find themselves overburdened with administration and an increasing demand with more and more patients registered. To solve the problems that patients and GPs face, the NHS and Government must consider a range of solutions.
For me, technology plays an important role in addressing these issues. As the CEO of Doctorlink, a digital health company working closely with the NHS, I’ve seen how technology can redirect 20-30% of patients to alternative care pathways – helping to relieve the burden on GPs. Our digital health tool triages patients to the right place of care the first time.
Take a condition like conjunctivitis, for example, Doctorlink would direct them to see a pharmacist over a GP. A pharmacist can prescribe eye drops at the first visit, whereas if a patient went to a GP, they’d be directed to a pharmacist anyway. There are many cases like this where people with minor conditions can self-manage or go to more appropriate NHS services directly.
The potential here is to save millions for the NHS and free up GP resources for patients with complex care needs, thus reducing waiting times and improving the quality of care. The NHS and Department of Health have made welcome strides in recent months in supporting digital health technology within healthcare. The end benefits will be considerable, it’s now a matter of ensuring we get there so we can improve patient satisfaction with the NHS.
The full radio interview is available to listen on BBC Radio London, which you can find here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0712r77 from 17:25 to 17:30.