Patients given access to GP booking system through digital television

Trent Vale Medical Centre has improved access for patients by enabling them to book, cancel and amend GP appointments through digital television.

Trent Vale Medical Centre has improved access for patients by enabling them to book, cancel and amend GP appointments through digital television.

The centre is one of 1,100 surgeries across the UK to use the new system to increase ease of access for patients who work or who are less mobile.

DigiTV implemented the DiTV programme, alongside primary care systems provider EMIS, giving patients the ability to access their GP's appointment book via their TV remote control or mobile phone.

Patients have access to the same system that the doctor's receptionist uses when checking appointment availability.

Surgeries in South Yorkshire, Stoke, Reading and Wrexham have been using DiTV for some time, and it is now nationally available via the Looking Local portal on DiTV.

Marc Bough, manager of the Trent Vale Medical Centre, said the system had proved a success since its implementation in January this year.

"The level of missed appointments has gone down, which is good because each missed appointment costs the health service about £15.

"Traditional standards of access are OK for most patients, but for the less mobile, or for those who work, they are rather restrictive.

"The system is good for people who do not have the internet, and it is good for older, less mobile people. The older people are, the less trusting they are of technology, but they trust the television because they see it as a familiar friend," he said.

"It is also good for people who have long working hours, as they can book appointments easily when they get home. There seems to be a high level of satisfaction so far."

At the moment, patients can only book, amend or cancel appointments, but there are plans to add to this. Patients will soon be able to order repeat prescriptions, get health information and leave messages for doctors.

"We are hoping to be testing these extra services by the end of the year," said Bough.

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