GPs covering 97% of the population in England now offer online access to medical records, appointment booking and repeat prescriptions, according to figures from NHS England.
In April 2014, just 3% of patients had access to web-based GP services, said the health service, which claimed that 55 million people in England now have online options available to them. However, the numbers only relate to availability of services from GPs, not to the number of patients actually using them.
The growth in online options from GPs came after health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised in October 2014 that all NHS patients in England would have online access to their medical records by April 2015. GPs signed up to the move as part of the new GP contract agreed in 2014 between the British Medical Association and NHS England.
“Many patients want the flexibility of booking services online, so we are delighted that GPs have worked so hard to make this possible,” said NHS England director of digital technology Beverley Bryant.
"There is more to come as we develop services that will increasingly help patients take more control of their health."
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NHS England said its ambition is that, “By 2018 every citizen will be able to access their full health records at the click of a button, detailing every visit to the GP and hospital, every prescription, test results, and adverse reactions and allergies.” In January 2013, Jeremy Hunt said he wanted a paperless NHS by 2018.
GP and national clinical lead for NHS England’s Patient Online programme, Masood Nazir, added: “Online services help to make patients’ lives easier and can reduce the paperwork for those in general practice.
"As GPs offer more online access we will continue to work closely with them to ensure they feel confident these services deliver real benefits for their patients.”