Difficulty seeing a doctor? Get an online one instead

Last year my son ended up in hospital with meningococcal septicaemia. It was a scary time, and I’ll admit that I completely lost my rag with the local GP surgery. Our town had seen the closure of a local surgery, and we’d been shipped across to another surgery that obviously couldn’t cope. We’d been assured that, after a few months, it would settle down.

Trouble is, it didn’t, and still hasn’t. If I want an appointment I have to call at 8AM and usually can’t get through because the line is permanently engaged. When you do get through – which is about 10 minutes later – you’ll find that all the appointment slots are taken for that day.

You have to plan ahead if you’re going to be ill, and don’t expect to see anyone when you finish work at 7PM unless it’s a “certain day”.

Difficulty seeing a doctor? Get an online one instead

This is what happened last year, and as I tried to get my son booked in I was being told by the receptionist that I should, “Just try again tomorrow and press redial”. Brilliant. What’s happened to our local GP’s? In the end I had to rely on the receptionist to make a “call” on whether he needed an emergency appointment slot or not. Is she a nurse? Is she a GP? No. It just seemed nuts, and when the rash appeared the next day we were starting to worry. We did the “glass test” as I hammered redial but, at 8.15, I was again told that all the appointment slots were full.

My wife ended up carrying him into the surgery and physically plonking on the reception desk and demanding an immediate appointment. We got referred to the hospital ten minutes later and he was in isolation for a week with an IV drip. Luckily it didn’t turn into full meningitis, but it showed just how much you have to fight for your kids to be seen by your local GP.

It’s wrong, and weeks later I complained to my local MP. He was useless and blamed the NHS, telling me to raise a complaint. The NHS wanted me to raise a “formal complaint”, but what can they do? Our GP seems to be stuck in 1953 with their paperwork and appointment-making processes.

Put it this way, I can understand why A&E is getting clogged up.

Difficulty seeing a doctor? Get an online one instead

The solution, according to PushDoctor, is for you to pick up your phone and pay £1 to see a doctor via your phone.

Yes, I could go on a rant about the privatisation of the NHS at this point and the two-tier system of care we’re getting in the UK, but it is what it is unfortunately. You at least get a REAL doctor talking to you for £1, and that’s probably cheaper than the parking at your local surgery if we’re honest. Costs for this online solution rack up depending on what you need. For “new customers” (I think they mean patients), the first consultation is £1, but then it’s £14 if you need to meet virtually again. This will give you “up to 10 minutes” with the doctor but you can extend it out for an additional charge. A prescription costs £4.50 and a referral letter or fit for work note costs £12.50.

There’s an NHS version of the app, but it depends if your local trust supports it. For Doctors after a bit of additional cash, the paid-for-appointment app lets you “Enjoy on-demand income” and means you can “Work as little or as much as you like anytime, any day including weekends”.

There’s similar options now out there, such as Halo Communications who provide a HIPAA Compliant text messaging application for healthcare. It’s a growing market where patients and staff can benefit greatly from the benefits of technology.

Difficulty seeing a doctor? Get an online one instead

You can get the iOS app or use Chrome on Android and Internet Explorer on Windows Phone. Here’s a video showing the solution in action…


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