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NHS England funds online GP appointments

NHS England promises clinical commissioning groups more than 18% increase in funding for IT services and plans to launch a £45m fund for e-consultations

NHS England has issued its GP Forward View document, outlining funding for GP services – including a £45m programme to improve uptake of online appointments.

The programme will be available from April 2017, with a national framework for “the cost-effective purchase of telephone and e-consultation tools” launched in December 2017.

The GP Forward View also announced a further £2.4bn a year investment in general practice.

Computer Weekly reported earlier this week that the National Information Board has committed to free Wi-Fi being installed across primary care by 2019.

The document said that “funding will be made available to cover the hardware, implementation and service costs from April 2017” for those Wi-Fi services.

It also said that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will get more than an 18% increase in funding for “provision of IT services and technology for general practice”. However, with the extra money come extra requirements.

By the end of this financial year, GPs should have the ability to access electronic patient records “both inside and outside the practice premises” including on home visits. CCGs must also ensure specialist support is in place for services such as governance, IT and cyber security.

It should also include “the ability for patients to transact with the practice through online appointment management, repeat prescription requests and access to their detailed record and test results, with the aim that at least 10%  of patients will be using one or more online services by the end of this year”.

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NHS England is also working on creating a digital primary care maturity index and setting “new more requirements, making it clear what the general practice should be able to expect from IT services”.

The results of NHS England’s digital maturity assessment of secondary care were published earlier in April 2016.

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